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AL CAPONE'S BATHROOM TILE FROM THE LEXINGTON HOTEL

bathroom floor tile  from Al Capone's Lexington Suite 530
(Mario Gomes collection).


Al Capone's Lexington Suite

Al capone's playpen, office, command center," The Room of Doom."These are the words used in describing the inner sanctum of Al Capone, Chicago's most powerful man of the Twenties. The Lexington Hotel was built in 1892 as a residential Hotel and designed by Clinton Warren. (Also the Architect for Chicago's Congress Hotel).The10 story Lexington Hotel was made of brick and Terra Cotta and once featured President Benjamin Harrison speaking from it's balcony. It's most notable resident was none other than Alphonse "Scarface" Capone. He occupied the Lexington from1928-1932. Mr. Capone and his large entourage occpied the third, fourth and fifth floor, maintaining bodyguards in surrounding rooms next to, above and below his personal suite. He also had well armed torpedoes in the lobby pretending to read newspapers when in fact these men were constantly casing the lobby for any threat against "Snorky". (Capone's preferred nickname meaning snappy dresser).


The Lexington Hotel 2135 South Michigan ave and Cermak rd.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Bill Helmer)



In the Lobby Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo would sit in a chair with a fully loaded Thompson submachine gun on his lap. Louie "little New York" Campagna another one of Capone's favorite bodyguards would sleep on a cot beside Al's suite door at night with two automatics at the ready to protect "the Big One".
While Al had all this protection outside and inside his suite, he had secret stairwells to the upper room where his mistress was living .He would go to her through a stairwell located behind the medicine cabinet.He also had a stairwell in his suite permitting him to exit the Lexington in case of emergency via the underground tunnels which were first used in Chicago to shuttle coal and then bootleg booze. Many unerground workers recall finding gold coins and jewelery studded stickpins directly below The Lexington. In the Entrance to Capone's suite was a crest with the initials A.C. that had been laid in the oak parquet. Inside Capone's suite it had ornately plastered walls of gold and reddish pink colors. An ancient oriental rug covered the floor . In the center of the room was a huge chandelier of smoked glass that shed an amber soft light.He also had a fake fireplace with fake coals lit up by light bulbs and a built in radio set installed over the mantle piece. On the wall next to his office desk was portraits of President George Washington and Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson. Also on the wall were heads of deer and elk. At the left of the front entrance was Al Capone's bathroom* with it's ornately designed wall tiling of green tiles with tan and purple trim. The floor tiles were also of light green color. In the bathroom stood a large deep sunkened lavender bathtub with gold plated fixtures.

Here is a description of the various rooms used by Al Capone, his family and gang members in the Lexington.




Inside of a corner tower suite in the Lexington. Al Capone's living quarters and office was situtated in one like this.
Photo courtesy of Joe Walters









Al had a thing for light green. Closeup of the ornate light green tile that Al Capone favoured in his bathroom.
He had this same colored tile (without the ornate trim) in one of the hanging bathrooms in his master bedroom at 93 Palm Island Miami. Mae's bathroom contained lavendar colored tiles.
 (Mario Gomes collection).


 Capone's light green tile fragment from hanging bathroom that came from 93 Palm Avenue.
I dug this fragment up myself out of the ground on the property when I visited then owner Hank Morrison.
 (Mario Gomes collection).






 Nile green Tiles with royal purple trim from Al Capone's bathroom  at The Lexington hotel.these were described by John Kobler in his book  called "The Life and World of Al Capone". These tiles shown here are now in my collection.
(Mario Gomes collection)






Al Capone's bathroom in The Lexington Hotel
(Photo courtesy of Bill Helmer)









Capone's green nile tiles.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Helmer)






Al Capone's bathroom at the Lexington with the famous tiles intact before excavation.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters)





Another Lexington floor plan during Capone's reign.




Other Lexington Hotel related items.



      
1920's Lexington Hotel matchbook made by the Diamond Match Co. New York.
 (Mario Gomes collection)






Fruit fork from the Lexington Hotel
 (Mario Gomes collection).




Close up of the fork with "The Lexington Hotel" stamped on the back of  handle.
Not to be confused with the two New york hotels by the same name. Chicago's older hotel had the distinction of being named the "Lexington Hotel" or "The Lexington Hotel", while it's NewYork counterparts were named "Hotel Lexington" or "The Hotel Lexington"
 (Mario Gomes collection).







Lexington Doorknob
 (Mario Gomes collection).








Outdoor Terra Cotta from The Lexington Hotel
(Mario Gomes collection)







Piece of Al Capone's lavender bathtub.
(Mario Gomes collection)
(* Al Capone had two bathrooms, one in his suite and one in his office ).







Waterbury mechanical pencil found in Lexington Lobby
(Mario Gomes collection)




Piece of Al Capone's Room of Doom plaster wall.  
(Mario Gomes collection)




Above Items grouped in a frame.
(Mario Gomes collection)






Al Capone's  wallpaper and Lexington Hotel front entrance tile.
(Mario Gomes collection)







The Lexington  re-invented as the New Michigan Hotel circa 1973.
(Photo Courtesy of Mark Kennedy)






The New Michigan Hotel 1972
(Photo courtesy of Bill Fancourt from Derbyshire, England)







Hallway to Al's offices and suite at the Lexington Hotel.
(Special thanks to Mr. Bill Helmer)






Close up of wallpaper removed from Al's Lexington office.
(Special thanks to Mr. Bill Helmer)
(Mario Gomes collection)

Capone was usually a late riser, starting his day at noon to one o'clock. Lounging around in his royal blue silk p.j.'s he slowly has breakfast and begins to get dressed to face a day of business decisions and meeting and greeting businessmen, politicians and celebrities alike. Evening would be reserved for partying, drinking, gambling and carousing with ladies of the evening.The Lexington was known as a whorehouse back when Al occupied it. If Al and the gang would step out to a nightclub for entertainment, the club was immediately cordoned off to the public. If you were in the club and Al arrived, you were there to stay until Al was ready to leave. If you tried to get in when Al was in a club, you would be turned away at the door. These were tight security precautions taken to protect the big fellow from harm. If you were stuck in the club with Al, all the drinks were paid by him for your inconvienience.







Fragments of Al Capone's taste in wall paper from the Lexington.
(Special thanks to Mr. Bill Helmer)
(Mario Gomes collection)




.
Authentic mug from Lexington Hotel Chicago , Illinois.
(Mario Gomes collection)




Back of mug
(Mario Gomes collection)






Door tag from Lexington room.
(Mario Gomes collection)


 Now back to the Lexington;

After Al was sent to prison, ex alderman John "Bathhouse "Coughlin occupied Al's suite.When all remnants of the Capone gang were gone from the hotel ,the Lexington slipped from bordello to flophouse. In the 1950's it was renamed the New Michigan. It's last occupant was thrown out in 1980. In 1986, It's last hoorah came when Geraldo's circus arrived at the Lexington looking for gold in some safe found below said to have belonged to Al. On live T.V. 60 million viewers watched that evening. Geraldo's plans also fell through!!! Al Capone had  had the last laugh on Geraldo and the I.R.S, who by the way was also watching the safe opening event. The I.R.S. was still hoping to collect on the pending $200,000 owed by Al back in '32. No gold, just some empty whiskey bottles. The hotel at the time was owned by the Sunbow Foundation, a women's self help training group in which they planned a renovation coup. Lacking funds this project fell through. By1989, the building was then owned by Dr. Ganesan Visvabharathy. He planned to renovate the Lexington, but his plans also fell through. He tried to sell, but no buyers came to the rescue.

The Lexington Hotel was demolished in the fall of 1995.


Lobby of The Lexington Hotel Chicago ,Illinois
(Mario Gomes collection)



Banquet and Ballroom of The Lexington Hotel






Lexington Ballroom's ornate plaster
(Mario Gomes collection)






Two views or a Cherub ornament from the Lexington Hotel
(Courtesy of the Dr. Pete N. Nickolas)







Early Lexington postcard.
(Joe Walters)





Another view of Lexington on a postcard.
(Joe Walters)





Ad for the Lexington
(Joe Walters)




The New Michigan Hotel (Lexington) circa 1950.
(Postcard courtesy of my pal Bob Richards).




The Lexington was later renamed the New Michigan Hotel between the  40's and 50's.
(Joe Walters)




Business card from Batt's lounge restaurant in the New Michigan hotel.
(Joe Walters)






The Metropole Hotel
Al Capone and crew occupy it 1925-1928



Al Capone and his gang had occupied the Metropole Hotel before moving into the Lexington in 1928.
(Joe Walters)




Early view of the Metropole
(Mario Gomes collection)




Metropole Hotel Marble floor tile
(Mario Gomes collection)







Metropole Hotel plate Chicago circa 1926
(Mario Gomes collection)






Another view of the Metropole Hotel
(Joe Walters)





The Lexington and Metropole Hotels were shortly remembered.

In February of 2010, a commemorative pylon erected by the City of Chicago was put up for a short time in front of where the Lexington once stood.
(Photo courtesy of Joe Walters)





Text mentioning Al Capone.
(Photo courtesy of Joe Walters)





Joe Walters and I acknowledged at bottom of sign for contributing to the project.
(Photo courtesy of Joe Walters)



Why a short time?
Of course, as always with the near mention of Al Capone's name, the dictator supposedly representing the city's Italian community made a big brouhaha about this sign on the news, and it was soon taken down thereafter. The sign had merely stated a small mention that Al Capone was one of the many who had once resided at these two exquisitely built Chicago architectural masterpieces. So much for preserving history when you can cherrypick all the nice stuff that happened and erase all the bad. One wonders if the guy would have been so pumped to have it taken down if Capone was Irish? I think not!

The empty sign today
(Photo courtesy of Mario Gomes)



First Posted  June 2001