Southport Lanes closing September 27; Lease brochure now online

After 98 years, Southport Lanes will close for good September 27 due to the Coronavirus, and here is the listing from Mid-America Commercial Real Estate. 

LAKEVIEW — The historic Southport Lanes is closing its doors for good after 98 years in the neighborhood.

The bowling alley and billiards hall, located at 3325 N. Southport Ave., will close permanently Sept. 27, according to a press release from Southport Lanes.

Guests are invited to say goodbye to the establishment by stopping in for food or drink at its bar, sidewalk cafe or limited indoor seating or by ordering carryout. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, bowling and billiards are not available.

A spokeswoman for Southport Lanes said the bar is closing because of the pandemic, which has devastated bars, restaurants and other businesses with months of closure and capacity limits.

Southport Lanes was built by Schlitz Brewery around 1900 and was first named The Nook. But in 1922, federal laws banned brewers from owning taverns, so its name was changed to Southport Lanes and four hand-set bowling lanes were added.

The tavern then became a speakeasy with an upstairs brothel sometime during the 1920s, according to Southport Lanes’ website. The building still has a dumbwaiter that was used to bring refreshments to the women and their clients.

When prohibition ended, a new building was built to the east of the bar room, which Southport Lanes now uses as the billiards room. This building originally housed an illegal gambling facility, but it became a beer hall for rent and a local poling place in the 1950s.

Southport Lanes was remodeled twice — first in 1991 and again in 2003 — but always preserved the timeless feel of the Chicago institution.

Southport Lanes is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. People can visit Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4–10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. through Sept. 27.


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