Springfield, Illinois is located fairly close to my home, and I always have a good time when I visit the town. I enjoy walking through the historic district, checking out the fascinating Museum of Funeral Customs, and partaking in the crawfish festival at Popeye’s during the season.
Unfortunately, I never did have the opportunity to visit The Lake Club at 2840 Fox Bridge Road before it burned down in the early 1990s.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the nightclub operated very successfully bringing in well known performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney, and many other popular entertainers.
In the back part of the club, there was a very lucrative, albeit illegal, secret gambling operation going on which included billiard tables, card games, and slot machines.
During the holiday season of 1958, the club was raided by two undercover detectives, business declined quickly, and the club closed down in the 1960s.
A popular bartender during The Lake Club’s heyday was Albert “Rudy” Craner. Rudy was a large, friendly man with white hair. He had received a lot of cash in tips from the patrons of the gambling operation, and that all ended with the raid. Rudy’s physical and mental health began to deteriorate from the stress he experienced, and he blew his brains out in the office at the club.
During the summer of 1974, Bill Carmean’s construction business was suffering. He became interested in opening the vacant Lake Club building as a nightclub, and bringing in rock bands to perform. He had the club open within a few months.
One time when Bill was working at the club getting ready to open, he heard someone playing a piano in the building. No one else was in the establishment.
Bill soon realized business was booming enough that he needed some help. He hired a musician, Tom Blasco, to co-manage the club with him.
Tom also experienced strange sounds, whispers, and cold spots. One night he saw an apparition and immediately ran out of the building not even bothering to turn out the lights. He began to carry a rosary for protection.
Barbara Lard was a young waitress at the club during this time. She had several paranormal experiences of her own. Early one day, before the club had opened, she heard a trombone playing and assumed it was a band member…the band didn’t arrive until a few hours later.
Another time when Barbara walked out of the bathroom in Bill’s office, she saw an apparition of a man’s big head covered in snow white hair, and sporting a moustache. The entity told her to tell the owners one of them was going to die. She went home in tears. Later, she recognized the entity as the bartender, Rudy, from some old photographs that the former caretaker had in his possession.
Once when a salesman was sitting at a table talking with Bill, a glass flew off the bar and hit the wall behind the salesman’s head. He left immediately!
The paranormal occurrences continued to occur, and not long after Barbara’s experience outside the bathroom door, the landlord of the building died of a heart attack.
Tom attended a high school reunion in 1979, and asked a former classmate, Father Gary Dilley, for help.
Dilley checked out the club, and agreed to perform a cleansing ceremony blessing with two other priests, Father John Corredato and Father Gerald Leahy.
The priests began the ritual with a prayer to Michael the Archangel. “Michael is the angel that battled Lucifer in The Bible.” They sprinkled holy water in each room, and prayed for the release of Rudy’s suffering soul.
After performing the ceremony, the priests sensed anger in the air around them. Father Dilley was concerned about possession, and they hurried outside to wait for a little while before re-entering the club.
Immediately upon walking back inside, the men of God felt peace and harmony in the club. Rudy had found his way home.
On a Sunday morning in late summer of 1992, the abandoned night club burned to the ground.
Taylor, Troy. Haunted Illinois. Whitechapel Productions, Alton, Illinois. 2001.