Most baseball fans immediately think of Wrigleyville when it comes to finding places to show off their Cubs pride. Historic Gold Coast establishment The Lodge Tavern might be just the experience you're looking for though.
"We've been a Cubs bar since day one through the whole cycle of misery," longtime Lodge Management Vice President Chris Ryan jokes.
The bar frequently supports the Cubbies and even hosts a bus trip to Wrigley Field every Opening Day. However, its true tribute to the North Side team is the discreet back room. Coined "The Bullpen," the narrow, intimate space was once an unenclosed alleyway behind the building but was converted to a shrine to Chicago sports history throughout the Lodge's 58 years of operation.
Here are just a few of the treasures you'll find if you venture back to The Bullpen:
Recovered from the bank building that formerly adjoined The Lodge, this authentic jailhouse door has a film career! The location (and the door) were used by Kurtis Productions and National Geographic in a made for TV special "Madness In The White City," modeled after the Chicago set novel Devil In The White City. The film needed locations reminiscent of the city's turn of the century cellars and speakeasies.
On the topic of speakeasies, The Lodge keeps the spirit of the Prohibition outposts alive with its backdoor. It's been used by many celebrities including former Blackhawks star Chris Chelios, Vince Vaughn, John Cusak and countless other sports and pop culture figures throughout the decades.
"When they're here, it's their private time," Lodge Management President and CEO Lyn McKeaney describes. "Nobody knows they're here."
Celebrities aren't the only notable fans of The Lodge. This one-piece, custom-made sign was a personal gift from since passed Tabasco president Walter S. McIlhenny.
This photograph was taken on Waveland Avenue in 1910. "These were the original rooftops," says McKeany of the Cubs fans' "seats" pictured.
The Bullpen's bar was recovered from an 1800s mansion on the West Side of the city. Its stained glass was originally used in the home's rookery.
"When you start explaining [the history of the Bullpen] to people they feel like they're a part of something that's secret or private," manager Bill Carey notes fondly. "They love that."
Though neither player spent any time on the Cubs' roster, it's clear why this photo should appeal to anyone who calls him- or herself a baseball fan. Originally published in the Saturday Evening Post, it pictures Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig fishing in the Hudson River. The Bullpen's copy was developed from the original negatives.
The Lodge is located at 21 W. Division St. and is open seven days a week. For more information and hours, check the website.
(All photos by Katie Karpowicz)