Bank hopes to sell mobster Al Capones Wisconsin hideout after buying it for $2.6 million

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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WAUSAU, Wis. - The one-time gangster's house is built of stone with 18-inch thick walls and protected with guard towers, just in case G-men or goons with machine-guns inside violin cases come calling.
Chicago mobster Al Capone, local legend says, used the 37-acre lake nearby for seaplanes carrying shipments of bootleg alcohol, before they were loaded onto trucks bound for the speakeasies of Chicago in the days of Prohibition.
Capone's hideout, 407 acres of wooded property in northern Wisconsin about 150 miles northwest of Wausau, is owned now by the bank that foreclosed on it more than a year ago after no other bidders emerged at the $2.6 million floor price.
But Chippewa Valley Bank, which bought the site for the minimum bid during a five-minute sheriff's sale Thursday in Hayward, doesn't want to own it for long. So what the lender describes as a "very private and pristine" property with some notorious gangster history is still on the block.
Other parties are certainly interested, the bank's Vice-President Joe Kinnear said - but for something less than $2.6 million.
He said at least four people want to buy the property, perhaps to restore it to what it once was - a restaurant, museum and tourist area.
"It looks like we are going to have our hands full trying to get rid of it to these other individuals," Kinnear said. "We will market it and sell it. Somebody will buy it."
He hopes that happens within 90 days.
Capone - nicknamed "Scarface" - owned the land in the late 1920s and early 1930s during Prohibition, the bank said. The two guard towers on the property reportedly were manned with machine-guns whenever he visited.
The bank acquired the property after foreclosing in April 2008 on owner Guy Houston and his company The Hideout Inc., according to court records. The Houston family bought the property in the 1950s from Capone's estate and had operated it as a seasonal bar and restaurant, known for its prime rib, and offered guided tours focusing on the Capone lore.
Kinnear said Houston still has until Oct. 28 to settle his debt with the bank before the title is officially transferred.
Houston's attorney, Todd A. Smith of Rice Lake, did not immediately return a telephone message Thursday.
Capone headed a massive bootlegging, gambling and prostitution operation during Prohibition and raked in tens of millions of dollars. He was widely suspected in several murders but never charged.
He was considered the mastermind of the gangland killing on Chicago's North Side in 1929, known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Seven rivals of Capone's gang were gunned down in a garage, but investigators never could collect enough evidence to put anyone on trial for the deaths.
Capone was eventually convicted of income tax evasion and spent part of an 11-year sentence at the infamous Alcatraz prison. He died in 1947.

Organizations: Chippewa Valley Bank, The Hideout, North Side

Geographic location: Chicago, Northern Wisconsin, Hayward Rice Lake Alcatraz

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