Take a Tour Inside the Infamous Purple Hotel

The Village of Lincolnwood recently hired a demolition company to tear down the historic Purple Hotel. Take a look inside before it's gone.

Perhaps the most recognizable building in Lincolnwood

The infamous Purple Hotel can be remembered for a variety of historical events.

There's the unsolved murder of convicted mobster Allen Dorfman, who was gunned down in the hotel's parking lot in 1983.

Almost two decades later, Stuart Levine testified to the drug-fueled parties in the corruption trials of Tony Rezko and William Cellini. Levine told reporters that he snorted "10 lines of a potent mix of drugs" during a single sitting while at the hotel.

Despite all the high-profile history, the Purple Hotel also had its bright side.

The building at 4500 Touhy Ave. was built in 1953, and was originally called the Lincolnwood Hyatt House. Since then its changed hands a variety of times, becoming a Radisson and even a Ramada.

But everyone knew it as the Purple Hotel, and for several decades it was the place to be seen and heard. Extravagant weddings and fancy dinner parties were nothing unusual. The hotel even featured live music for its patrons as they dined in the Great Lakes Ballroom.

Wrecking Ball Has Reservations

Fast forward to today, and the Purple Hotel is a desolate eyesore.

The Village of Lincolnwood recently awarded Delta Demolition Inc. almost $1.2 million to tear down the building.

The property's current owner—Donald Bae of the broadcast firm KM Communications Inc.—was in the middle of a lawsuit with the village, which wanted him to either address the building's health violations or demolish it. The village previously sued Bae in 2006 to correct what it called "dangerous and hazardous conditions," including mold and an insect infestation.

After 45 years in business, the Purple Hotel closed in 2007 when it was found to be in violation of more than 30 building code violations. A judge ordered the hotel to close in January of that year. Its garish purple skeleton has stood abandoned ever since.

Before everything gets torn down, we thought we'd share a sneak peak of what the inside of the hotel looks like. The following pictures wouldn't have been possible without the help of Skokie Patch reader Martin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has a knack for photographing abandoned buildings, and many of the pictures inside the Purple Hotel are eerie as they are fascinating.  

If you have any stories or pictures of the Purple Hotel during its glory days, please send me a note at georges@patch.com.

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Skokieguy January 04, 2012 at 12:53 PM
How did the photographer get inside? Seems like there's a lot of furniture and items suitable for a scavenger sale. Also, I think that the demo company should consider selling the purple bricks as souvenirs, perhaps donating the proceeds to a local charity. The hotel was so iconic, I think locals might enjoy a pair of purple bookends, or use them as paving stones in a garden.
marjorie January 04, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I can only see 6 pictures...would like to view all 41...memories of friends weddings & dinners with my family
Lisa January 04, 2012 at 02:29 PM
It's a little creepy, some of the pictures appear as if people were there and had to leave in a hurry, like some sort of disaster happened!
David Zornig January 04, 2012 at 02:51 PM
It is a shame to see all the hotel art stacked up. The time for a salvage sale has probably though unfortunately come and gone. There is likely no current occupancy permit for the building's interior, so any type of sale would need to be held outside. Which would certainly require it's own event insurance and costs. Given all the past legal action, I don't envision the Village cooperating on such a venture. Unless it was the demo company holding it. SkokieGuy's brick idea is a great one though. Lincolnwood should embrace utilizing the bricks elsewhere.
sue kanter January 04, 2012 at 03:39 PM
My husband and I were married at the "Purple Hotel" December 26, 1970...would love to see all the 41 pics--could only see a few of them on line!!!
George Slefo (Editor) January 04, 2012 at 04:20 PM
@ Sue, Majorie Try using a different browser, that usually solves the problem. Or check out Martin's link =)
Dustin Walker January 04, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Here are some more photos of inside the soon to be gone Purple Hotel http://www.flickr.com/photos/doosty/sets/72157626389565751/
fsbuchler January 04, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I stayed at The Purple Hotel several times during the 1980's. I felt ill every time I was there. There is something terribly wrong with that building. It is one of those "sick" buildings that cannot really be fixed. I always knew mold was a problem and it does not surprise me that there were bug infestations as well. I'll be glad to see it go.
Barbara Haralovich January 05, 2012 at 02:47 AM
What a shame; too bad this couldn't be brought up to code, the mold problem identified, and be used for the homeless.
Ken Sabec January 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM
I started my 25 year Hyatt Hotel career at The Hyatt Lincolnwood in 1987. I have since worked at Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and today Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport. Every summer I go home to Chicago. I make my way past The Purple Hotel and it breaks my heart to see it in such bad shape. I have wournderful memories there. It is just so sad to see the shape it is in. R.I.P. Lincolnwood Hyatt House.
George Castle March 13, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I was married at that hotel Oct. 25, 1981, after attending myriad bar mitzvahs there. Also, a bit of Chicago sports history there -- Michael Jordan held his introductory press conference after being drafted by the Bulls at the hotel in 1984.
CabDriver April 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Just breaks my heart, buildings all over America for decades have been raised. I read an article about some European kids using underground access tunnels to restore stuff the Governments wont. I wonder if the "taggers" & local/village government could use eminent domain to fix it up. kinda like a local stimulus plan? Give 'em free bleach & water, turn it condo & give it to the kids for them & their families? That's part of the problem in our country, folks with ideas aren't in government, & the other group with cash can't share their blessings with the rest of us. God help both groups, if the Tea Party & the OccupyWallStreet crowds get together.
MIKE March 31, 2013 at 11:51 PM
How come it was allowed to fall apart?
Jason Spiegel May 17, 2013 at 04:36 PM
The Purple Hyatt,this was once a great establishment
Mike Kay May 18, 2013 at 05:16 AM
I met Keith Emerson of ELP there!
BS May 18, 2013 at 07:28 PM
I had my wedding reception at the Lincolnwood Hyatt house on May 15, 1971. Can anyone guess who I am? Hints: I went to East Prairie and Niles East class of '66. I used to have a '65 red/black GTO and have lived in Florida since 1989. My x wife used to work at Bank of Lincolnwood across the street,
Jason Spiegel May 18, 2013 at 08:08 PM
My father worked here in the late 50s as a teenager,he is sad to see it go as well,as far as trying to get a purple brick now in the eBay era I think the demolition co.will be selling them off
MHCooper May 21, 2013 at 01:54 PM
It is almost comical the way some of the rooms were left. Some look like wallpaper was stripped and everything taken out while others look like they are waiting [well almost] for guests. Love the pool with all the furniture tossed into it and the outside pool with the beautiful green water – almost looks inviting for a swim! I do like the idea of selling the bricks … or you could most like go by as they start to demolish the building and ask for 1 or 2. I grew up in Lincolnwood when the Hyatt was the place to go. A bunch of my friends worked as car parkers while we were in high school and I remember them coming home and talking about all the fancy/expensive cars they got to drive – at least through the lot.


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