O’Henry’s Roadhouse Building

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Spirits who reside here were organized crime victims; some dying in savage ways.

A gangster with temper and jealousy issues killed brutally.


WOW!  The O’Henry’s Road House Building is now the place of business for the very handsome The Irish Legend, Pub, Sports Bar and Restaurant. I hardly recognized it on-line; being completely renovated and given a new lease on life, and no longer creepy.

Instead of being a creepy, woe-be-gone property, complete with disheveled landscaping, that we saw in 2008, it is a booming business with craft beer on tap, an area to watch sports on a huge screen, dining room, great looking food and a wonderful outside eating area; with up-scale landscaping made complete by a little waterfall over rocks.

Some entrepreneur could see the possibilities in this old building with solid structural bones, and its property near a scenic river. The location cannot be beaten as a delightful place to have a restaurant.

Looking at the pictures on YELP, the interior has the same aura of the 1920s; wlth lovely restored woodwork, and a classy 1920s bar. It would be like stepping back into time and experiencing the 1920s era just by entering the front door.

This aura flows through the first floor: the pub area, the restaurant area that has a fireplace, with doors that lead to the outside eating area and the sports bar/ entertainment area in the back room.

The second floor has offices in the rooms located there. The attic is the storage area. I assume renovations were done here as well to bring these rooms up a notch or two.


To understand how this building became haunted, let’s look at the area’s history, which helps to explain what kind of a place of business that was first established in this building.

Willow Springs can be found about twenty miles south of Chicago, in the Des Plaines River-Vally, on what is called an upland moraine, formed by ice age glaciers long ago. The area is known for its beauty and ravines, and is known to geologists as Mt. Forest Island. Indians used to bury their dead here.

It is no surprise then when this place was discovered by everyday Chicagoans in 1854, as a beautiful picnic spot, on the Des Plaines River which ran beside Willow Springs. The land on which this old roadhouse sits upon used to be a favorite, tree shaded picnic area known as Spatis Grove.

By 1883, railroad travel south from Chicago to Willow Springs was a reality. From 1892 to 1899 the construction of the canal brought more people as well, many of them Italians, adding to the growing numbers of people who called the place home; mainly Germans, Poles and Irish. Ice harvesting off the river became a large money making endeavor for the people living here.

While ice harvesting was still a big business in Willow Springs in the early 1900’s, other less wholesome businesses migrated south from Chicago as well.

Gambling, drinking and the world’s oldest profession found out that Willow Springs was a profitable place to set up shop, as there was no police department; only the overworked Cook County Sheriff’s department, who had bigger fish to fry than vice offenders. Some police probably were bribed not to arrest, as was the custom in Chicago proper.

The beginning of the 1920’s saw a strong presence of gangster mob control of the gambling halls, drinking saloons, and moonshiners in Willow Spring because of the lack of police presence. When Prohibition was the law of the land, Willow Springs became a fertile ground for speakeasies as well.

Right before the 1920’s, probably around 1915-1918, this two storied, stylish rectangular building with a big attic and basement, opened as O’Henry’s Roadhouse, offering all the pleasures of life: Food, booze, gambling opportunities and sexual services.

It was built by mob money. Al Capone and his cohorts in crime loved to hang out in this roadhouse. No wonder is was built so well, with the best of 1920 decor inside.

Like all mob owned establishments, there was an area to take trouble-makers, rival mobsters, and folks who broke the rules. Mobsters were not forgiving or merciful, though many of them had soft spots for kids.

The basement was the designated area to take care of problem people permanently; through the customary way in mob culture; torture and death.

This pleasure palace had some “custom designed features,” not normally found in the average rectangular brick structure. The dirt floored basement had tunnels. The main floor, second floor and the attic area have such features as a secret stairway, a hideaway false wall and room, a hideaway false ceiling and a special stairway.

There were several tunnels built out from the basement. One led to a mausoleum, one to the woods behind the building, and one which was built under the road to the mob-owned ballroom dance hall across the street, which had a full casino in its basement.

This beautiful location resulted in great success for future establishments, as it was the favorite place for Chicagoans to escape the city of Chicago. Following O’Henry’s Roadhouse, came O’Henry’s 2, Cavallone’s West, Rico D’s and Frankie’s Pizza Roadhouse.

The structure slowly slipped into being a  mild fixer-upper opportunity, as past owners had tried to do maintenance. Looking at its outside condition on its property, it must of taken some time to sell.

When Tom and I first saw this building in 2008, it was a little run-down at this time, with an unkempt front landscaping, and in need of some TLC. The backyard had tables for outdoor eating among the weeds.

This orange brick building with the early 20th century decor had the aura of a haunted building. It had the vibes in spades, felt by just standing in front of it.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs came along and saw the possibilities of creating a beautiful restaurant, pub and sports bar area, with upscale, nice eating areas outside, with a view of the river.  Irish Legend was the dream created, and I can’t wait to come back again, once the Covid virus is defeated.


Though gangsters did their best to behave while in various establishments of entertainment, sometimes their work followed them there, and business had to be settled in sometimes violent ways. People killed violently sometimes haunt the place where they died, not able to let go.

The Bar Next Door, WI (This Touhy gang hideout bar was attacked by a rival gang and some folks inside died here).

Wabasha Street Caves, MN (Three gangsters were executed while playing cards in the side room by a big Louie type with a gun).

O’Henry’s Road House Building, IL (Some gangsters who were fired by Al Capone were killed in the building, as well as folks who broke the rules).

In Many mob-run establishments, there was a space designated to torture punish and finally kill offenders.

Brumder Mansion, WI (The killing room was located in the coal room).

Comedy Store, Calif (In their basement, victims had their legs and knee-caps broken before being killed with gusto in painful ways).

O’Henry’s Road House Building, IL (Probably a gangster soldier or two were fired, or foes of Al Capone, or folks who broke the rules were killed here; mostly in the basement.  A secret burial could have happened in the basement dirt, or somewhere on the grounds, or in the forest behind the building.  Others may have been taken by tunnel to the mausoleum for cremation).

People with jealousy and temper issues have murdered others in other stories found on this website. Many Prostitutes were murdered because of these issues.

County Line BBQ Restaurant, OK (A customer known as a flirt made the mistake of being flirtatious with a Prostitute, enraging her mobster boyfriend, who shot him in front of the fireplace despite the number of people who saw him do it).

Slippery Noodle Inn, IN (A prostitute and her customer were both shot dead by her jealous boyfriend).

Old Washoe Club, NV (A blonde prostitute was murdered by her jealous boyfriend, who killed himself out of despair).

O’Henry’s Road House Building, IL (A hapless bartender during the 1920s’-30s’ fell in love with one of the prostitutes, who was considered by a pretty ruthless and cold gangster as his property).

The gangster broke the bartender’s neck, killing him as the bartender came down the basement steps to get supplies stored there.  The gangster then beat the prostitute very badly, probably to death.  It is thought that both were buried in the dirt basement.

People who had a violent life-style  find themselves to be stuck in the place where they did their evil. Sometimes they are afraid to go to the other side in the spirit world  because they are afraid of the punishment they may receive, or they can’t let go of their guilt  of the evil they did in this world.

The Comedy Store, CA (The spirit of the sadist who terrorized, tortured and killed people seems to be grounded here).

Bobby Mackay’s Music World, KY (Two male spirits who brutally murdered  a pregnant girlfriend of one of them while alive, are grounded in the structure; still acting out their evil nature).

Shanghai Tunnels, OR (The evil men who kidnapped, often killed their captives through neglect, and sold the one. who survived are grounded there.Their red eyes reflect their damnation).

O’Henry’s Road House Building, IL (The ruthless executioner is grounded here for all the people he killed in the basement).



Apparently, the gangster soldiers did a lot of brutal business here, that has caused  restless, unhappy spirits who are stuck here because they can’t let go of their ghastley deaths.

A lot of paranormal activity has not only been experienced by the various owners, staff and sometimes guests, but also by paranormal and psychic investigators.

Spirit of the Murdered Prostitute

This restless spirit travels all over the building, trying to find peace.

She needs to tell her story about how she died; the first step to reaching peace.

Her bloodied, pulverized face has appeared on occasion in the mirrorS of the bathrooms all over the structure.

A cold spot has been felt in one of the bathrooms by a Ghost Research Society team member.

This female entity appeared in front of the owner of Rico D’s, and had a conversation with him, telling him how much she liked the improvements that he was doing to the building.

Spirit Presence of probably a Male

While walking down the 2nd Floor Hallway, some have felt a rude, probably male presence go right through them, which gives a hint of what kind of person he was while alive which points to a gangster-type.

I theorize that it is the gangster who killed the bartender and prostitute.

In the basement, a shadowy man with an overcoat has been seen going up the stairs by employees.

Upstairs Office Rooms

Spirits make themselves known to the living by hot spots and odors.

The spirits show themselves as being a string of small reticular lights here.

An investigator from Ghost Research Society felt a “hot localized area” on his face, and became aware of a distinct, unknown odor.

Digital photos taken of this room show “a string of small red triangular lights crossing from one side of the room to another; lights which were not there when the pictures were taken.

BASEMENT: Variety of Emotions and Restlessness

It seems that this area was a popular area to torture and kill people who did the wrong thing. It is surmised that there are some bodies buried in the dirt floor of those executed.

Spirits who are buried here are stuck where they died; not able to let go of a variety of emotions they suffered in their death. No wonder it is creepy.

Spirit of the murdered bartender, and those killed don’t go far from their unmarked graves, except the spirit of the prostitute.

A feeling of uneasiness has been picked up by many people: owners, staff, and investigators brave enough to come to investigate here.  It is a creepy location, giving an off-balance sensation to people who have to go into the basement, and experienced investigators as well.

The group led by Spiritual feeler Edward “Sun Ray” Shanahan / Unexplained World, reacted to the swirling, unsettling energy of many emotions from restless spirits here. They found it hard to stay there for more than short periods.

The dirt has been described by Edward “Sun Ray” Shanahan’s Unexplained World,  as being not pure dirt, as it has a “bone feel” to it, and an oily type of sensation.

Paranormal Investigation Team, GRS agreed with Spirit feeler Shanahan. “Walking on the dirt area is like the feeling of  walking over a newly dug grave”, a team member from Ghost Research Society explained.

Hard evidence was caught here and is listed below under Paranormal Findings.


The owners, the staff and visitors have all had paranormal experiences with the restless spirits who are here.

Paranormal investigators and psychic investigators personal feelings/experiences have caught activity to back up their feelings and experiences.

Ghost Research Society caught some hard evidence both on film and EVPs on their recorders. In the basement, this investigation group not only caught anomalies on tape, but were also successful in recording the below EVP.

Basement Anomalies on tape- Similar pictures of “a string of small red triangular lights crossing from one side of the room to another” were also captured on a digital camera, by a Ghost Research Society team member.These were also caught upstairs.

Ghost Research Society caught some hard evidence as well with EVPs on their recorders. In the basement, this investigation group not only caught anomalies on tape, but were also successful in recording the below EVP.

An EVP taken in The basement, where the question was asked by a Ghost Research Society team member, “Did something bad happen to you in this room? A female voice answered; “Beneath the floor.”

The group led by Spiritual feeler Edward “Sun Ray” Shanahan / Unexplained World, also caught some hard evidence. A shadow was caught on digital film on the boiler by an Unexplained World team member, which wasn’t there a minute later when the area was filmed.




Probably so, unless a medium and energy changer have helped the spirits find peace. At least two paranormal sources have found evidence of spirits  who cannot rest because of a violent end at the hands of others. The perpetrator(s) that caused so much pain and death may also be stuck here; afraid to go to the other side because of their wicked behavior here.

I have emailed the new owners of The Irish Legend, and if I find out any other information about their experiences, I will add to this story.



8933 S. Archer Avenue
Willow Springs, Illinois 60480

The old O’Henry’s Roadhouse building, now the home of The Irish Legend, can be found on S. Archer Avenue; not far from Willow Springs Road and S. Archer intersection, and right in front of a large forest preserve area. It is west of the town Willow Springs. On 294, get off on the Willow Springs Road exit.



  • ghostresearch.org
  • theunexplainedworld.com
  • yelp.com
  • encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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