The Grainy History of the Prohibition Era woven into Madison’s Wonder Bar | Local government
It was a deadly rivalry that shaped the Wonder Bar.
In 1927, infamous gangster Al Capone began pressuring rivals Roger “The Terrible” Touhy and Matt Kolb to become partners with him. When Touhy’s gang refused, Capone opened several brothels in Touhy’s territory, sparking a gang war, according to a city’s historic nomination draft for the Wonder Bar submitted by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation in late 2008. .
The following is taken from the historic nomination, which was withdrawn at the request of the property owner in 2009:
The Touhy truck stops were the scene of several victims of the conflict, including the deaths of two of the six Touhy and Kolb brothers in establishments in Illinois between 1927 and 1931.
The two-story Wonder Bar, funded by Roger Touhy and built around 1930, is believed to have been the site of a shooting, but no supporting evidence has been found. The involvement in the family gang of Touhy’s brother Eddie, who lived in the upstairs apartment, is unclear. But if he hadn’t been involved, he would have been the only one of the six Touhy brothers not to be.
Originally dubbed “Eddie’s Wonder Bar,” the fortress-like appearance of the building reinforced its myth, which included allegations of a body buried behind a fireplace on the second floor, bulletproof glass and hidden compartments. for the storage of weapons in the circular cabins located in the towers of the building. The wooden bar is said to be from Chicago. The basement is unfinished, but the entrance to what is believed to have been a secret tunnel exiting the building can be seen on the east wall.