Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Famous Mineola Hotel

Last weekend I planned a geocaching trip out to Fox Lake, Illinois with the specific intent of visiting the Mineola Hotel.  I had never seen the hotel when it was still in operation, although my husband vividly remembers eating in the dining room and staring out at the ice shanties that littered the frozen lake in winter.  He says he and his uncle often went fishing on Fox Lake on the ice, right in front of the hotel.

The Mineola Hotel and Lounge was built in 1884 on the banks of  Fox Lake by members of the Chicago Board of Trade and was to be used as their clubhouse.

By 1903 it had been expanded and renovated into a 100 room hotel for the “rich and famous.”  Set on 17 acres of lakefront property, the hotel featured a lounge, a restaurant, a 240 ft. porch that fronted the hotel and 4 floors of rooms.  Across the parking lot stood the full service marina.  By 1910 Fox Lake was well known for it's drinking and gambling establishments.  The Mineola Hotel was notorious for its not-too-discreet gambling activities and had earned a reputation as a vicious area resort.

One of the famous who frequently visited in the 1920’s and early 1930's was reputed Chicago gangster Al Capone.  According to local legend, he often used the hotel as a hideout during the Prohibition Era.  

In 1979 the hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places....

Time has taken its toll on the once elegant hotel and the state of disrepair has forced the city to condemn the building....

The deserted hotel and lounge stand on the shores of Fox Lake, and the only current activity now comes from the nearby marina that is still in operation.

It was really interesting to walk around the building and sad to see how much it's deteriorated over the years...

This is what it looks like from the rear of the building....

The lower portion of all the windows on the lower level have been boarded over.  How I would have loved to peer inside them!  The front lower entrance door was open, so I slipped inside for a photo...

Located at 91 N. Cora in Fox Lake, the Mineola is considered the largest wooden structure in the state of Illinois.  At one time you could rent a room for the sum of $ 2.00 per night.  If those walls could talk, just imagine the stories they could tell!

While we were there, I created a "Challenge Cache" for this location.  I named it "Al Capone's Mineola Hideaway."  I'll do another post tomorrow and explain what a Challenge Cache is.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating place!

    It's sad to see historic building run down like that... even here where most of them are built in stone you can see the passage of time and wish there was more money/will available to spruce them up!

    Can you imagine any of our modern constructions lasting as long as the medieval Gothic cathedrals? Or even the Roman temples?... me neither... they sure don't make'em like they used to! :p

    1. It is surprising considering the technology we have today compared to years ago, isn't it?

  2. Very cool Kim, Thanks for the history lesson.To bad someone can't fix it up. That place is cool.

    1. Unfortunately it would cost a fortune to renovate. For me, it would be fun to restore something like that and open a restaurant/bar/banquet hall. The view of the lake is killer!

  3. Oh it is wonderful. I hate that it is in disrepair. What a tragedy. So pretty.

  4. Sad to see these historic buildings slipping into disrepair. Thanks for the photos and history - very interesting!

  5. What an amazing porch. It would be nice if a civic group stepped up to the plate to restore such a treasure.

  6. Well done Kim!
    Super field trip and history lesson with fantastic pics! This was written just like a pro. I could see this featured in any top dog publication.
    Great work!!

    Ps could you please drop this into the CacheCrazy post schedule for next weekend ?

  7. At $2 per night you would pay just over $700 per YEAR! I wouldn't mind spending a few heats there, live lakeside, eat in the lounge, read and maybe finish my book (which I haven't started yet but its sure to be a best seller)

  8. So sad that it has been closed down and is falling apart. When I read your title, it rang a bell. This hotel was featured on an HGTV show a few years ago. (At least I'm pretty sure that was what I saw it on?) This would have been an awesome place to vacation at. It sure was beautiful back in it's glory days!

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  10. Someone should definitely repair it just enough to be safe for people to go inside. Since it's said to be haunted, this building should be turned into an attraction allowing in towners and out of towners to go on tours. The Mineola should NOT be vacant, it is too beautiful of a building with AWESOME HISTORY!!! IT'S A SHAME THAT IT IS SITTING VACANT AS IT IS, IF I HAD THE MONEY I WOULD DO EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED! Building tours would surely bring in money, people, and make this building A VERY FAMOUS ATTRACTION, AS IT SHOULD BE!! YOU'D BE SURPRISED AS HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD LOVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO FINALLY GO ON A TOUR OF A SAID TO BE HAUNTED BUILDING THAT WAS ONCE A FAVORITE GET A WAY FOR FAMOUS MEN AS AL CAPONE!!!! THIS BUILDING IS AMAZING AND I WANT TO SEE INSIDE OF IT SO BADLY!!! I WILL NOW BE FOLLOWING THIS BUILDING AND HOPING FOR A GRAND OPENING ONE DAY SOON, WHO KNOWS, MAYBE I WILL WIN THE LOTTERY AND BRING THIS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL BUILDING BACK TO LIFE!!!! :) ;) Kristin :)

  11. Kristin, it is beautiful but when you go down there and into the parking lot...the owner/inner circle chaps look at you like you are the worst scum on the planet. It is sad really. I only live like 4 minutes from there and it is my dream to have the money to purchase this property and restore it just like you said!


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