When you consider the concept of historic houses, perhaps gangsters are not the type of people that pop into your head. We generally associate “historic” properties with grand architecture, or rustic post-and-beam homes, or perhaps even an old farmhouse that has withstood the storms of a century. Yet there can be no doubt that the simple, two-story, working-class property that used to be Al Capone’s South Side Chicago home (7244 S. Prairie Ave) in the South Side of Chicago represents a fascinating time in United States history — even if it doesn’t have any historical plaques or markers to tell its story. And, if you have stacks of extra cash laying around, it is soon to be offered for sale.
According to Joel Hood of the Chicago Tribune, the unassuming two-story house will be offered early this year for approximately $450,000, which is just a little higher than what similar properties sell for. Seems like a good deal, considering the significant stature of Capone and the fact that this was his home during his rise to power. The Capones bought the property back in 1923 for $5500, and it was in this modest home that Capone hoped to protect his family from his violent business dealings. Since Capone’s mother passed away in 1953, the property has only been owned by two people. Amazingly, the current owner, 71-year-old Barbara Hogsette, purchased the house in 1963 for $29,500 and has lived there ever since — for over 45 years.
Hogsette has seemingly been fairly apathetic about her house’s historical significance, having purchased the property for practical reasons. She says she was always aware of gawking passers-by, and occassionally accomodating to Capone enthusiasts who knock on her door, but she was never caught up in the excitement, and simply considers the property “her home.” She watched from afar as historical groups tried to have the house designated officially as a landmark in 1989, a movement which was defeated when Italian American groups cried foul — arguing that such an honor would only help glorify & celebrate a “vicious criminal.”
Yet with the media exposre the sale is sure to attract, interested buyers may need to “peddle some influence” to win the (bidding) war.