Clarendon Hills’ Country House Restaurant
Without a doubt, my next train trip to Chicago will include a visit just west of the city, to the Country House, for a burger and a Bloody Mary. I admit I like a good burger, but that won’t be the only reason I’ll be stopping by the Country House . . .
Built and opened next to a dirt road in 1922 by Emil Kobel, the Country House was a warm and inviting restaurant/tavern/convenience store where locals could visit, grab a bite to eat, or grab some needed items for the family. Mr. Kobel enjoyed making people happy. He soon added a shady little park with pine, black walnut, and oak trees. He enhanced the little park even more by adding a picnic area that included tables, gazebos, barbecue pits, and horseshoe pits.
Mr. Kobel provided a happy and successful life for his family until his retirement to warmer climates in 1957, when he sold his home and all that went with it to Mr. Richard Montanelli. Apparently another kind individual, Mr. Montanelli (also a man with courage, as he was a decorated WWII bomber pilot) purchased the property for his mother to run. When his mother’s health began to fail, Mr. Montanelli attempted to run this establishment as well as his own successful tailor shop. It was a difficult task to take on by himself, and the tavern was not as well maintained as he would have liked.
In 1974, the Country House was purchased and soon renovated by David and Patrick Regnery. It was after this that our story becomes most interesting.
David was consulting with a carpenter in the kitchen one morning during the renovation when all at once, six shutters on six separate windows burst open.
A young, attractive blonde woman is often seen in the tavern. Sometimes she is standing by the jukebox. She almost looks like a living person, except she has no feet. Occasionally, she will sit on the window sill of an upstairs bedroom and beckon to men. She has a sense of humor because sometimes she will announce that a patron’s table is ready . . . when it is not.
Often there are footsteps, pounding, slamming doors, pots and pans moving around, the jukebox playing unrequested records, the thermostat regulating itself, the scent of fresh flowers, and the sound of a baby crying.
Psychic researchers brought in to investigate determined that a young blonde woman who had died of internal injuries outside the building in the 1950s was still searching for something inside the Country House.
Mr. Montonelli was contacted as he had owned the business during that time period. He said that a woman fitting that description was dating one of his bartenders, and used to come into the tavern often. One Sunday afternoon in 1958, she came in asking her beau if he would watch her baby. After his refusal, she left very upset. She was dead within minutes after her car went off the road and hit a tree. The baby was said to be unharmed.
The Country House continues to be a successful business, well known in the Chicago area for its great food and comfortable atmosphere. The Regnery Brothers have even opened up for business at two other locations . . . but, I don’t think they have the added pleasure of a ghost or two with whom to dine.
Sources/References/For further reading and information:
Bielski, Ursula. Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City. Chicago: Lake Claremont Press, 1998.
Roson, Ellen and Dianne Halicki. Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66. Phoenix: Golden
West Publishers, Inc., 2003.
Telesco, Patricia. Ghosts, Spirits and Hauntings. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1999.
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