Living in Brookfield, Wisconsin for most of my life, I have always taken for granted the historic aspects of my community. Growing up, we had always heard the rumor of Al Capone having a hideaway somewhere in Brookfield Wisconsin, but it wasn't until I was a Realtor, selling real estate in Brookfield, Wisconsin that I actually had the opportunity to see and tour the property! It was in 1994, and the old, sort of run-down brick house on the large parcel on Brookfield Road was up for sale. I don't remember too much of it now, but I do remember that it had quirky rooms. One area of the basement seemed like it had been walled off and had a very low ceiling. The local newspaper reported at the time a terazzo floor in one large room, complete with rusty rings embedded in the floor, supposedly to chain the whiskey barrels. It was a large home for it's time - around 3,100 square feet, almost all brick. A window above the front door was rumored to be "The Lookout"!! There was supposedly a secret tunnel between the house and the barn, I guess so the gangsters could escape in case the revenooers came gunnin'. By the 90's there was no barn, and no tunnel to be found.
Photo from 1996 MLS
Who knows? Back in the 1920's Brookfield was a very rural community - way out in the boondocks probably a half day car ride from most sections of Milwaukee. Old highway 18 was about a half mile south of the Capone property, which sat on a large wooded parcel with a long driveway coming off of Brookfield Road. Our county GIS system has aerial photos dating back to 1941, and it shows a lone house with a couple of small outbuildings. The driveway encircles the entire house. There are farm fields and forest all around - the nearest house being at least a quarter mile away. Brookfield is about 100 miles from Chicago, so how long a drive on bad roads in Model-T type cars? Long enough to lose the posse? A local historian chronicles that a Polish immigrant couple was the "front", living in the house and buying farm goods from neighbors. The man had a record as a "ruffian" in Chicago! Now fronting for Al Capone living in Brookfield Wisconsin. It would be a perfect hideaway. About 5 miles east on highway 18 was a place reputed to be a speakeasy during prohibition - more on that later - but a very convenient hangout for the neighborhood gangsters.
In 1994 the property was purchased by a developer who divided the land into 8 lots. The end of history? Nope! The good humored developer named the subdivision "The Hideaway" and the one street in it, "Capone Ct" much to the chagrin of some locals! The home was remodeled and is dwarfed by the McMansions that have sprung up around it. Capone would be proud to be among such prestigious company, I'm sure! A huge outlot of forest around the development was left intact, which certainly adds to the beauty and desireability of living in Brookfield Wisconsin.
This is how the old Capone place looked in the summer of 2009. The turret area above the front door is where the lookout window is supposed to have been. It is by all accounts, a lovely home now!
There are dozens of historic sites in Brookfield and the surrounding communities of Elm Grove, Waukesha and New Berlin. Watch this blog for information on other places in Waukesha County.