The Building



The exact date of construction is unknown, but it started out as a rip-roarer sometime in the 20's.  It was a "purpose built structure", apparently built by the mob as a roadhouse.  Legend has suggested it also operated as a center for other illegal activities, including prostitution, gambling, and liquor distribution.

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The building was literally a fortress, with the base walls of 8 inch thick concrete reinforced block, covered by an additional 2 inches of thick stucco overwall, solid oak doors capable of stopping a rifle bullet fired at close range (and actually "battle tested", no fooling...) as well as hidden passages, trap doors, and secret hiding places.  It was several stories tall, with a first story roof area that allowed an unobstructed view of the surrounding open land (mostly prairie, with a few homes sprinkled in) for at least 200 yards in all directions.

During various remodeling projects, many of the unusual "features" of the structure were uncovered.  One of the areas accessed by a hidden trap door was discovered while repairing fire damage, and was extremely well camouflaged.  Had the surrounding floor not been damaged, its existence wouldn't have been discovered.  Under the trap door was a  dugout basement, only accessible via the trap door above.  It could have easily seated a dozen or more. 

After Prohibition was repealed, the structure housed various bars and restaurant operations, and the "apartments" on the second floor were subdivided and made into legitimate rental apartments. 

Otto Sr. was very familiar with this structure, having been in it numerous times in his youth, and felt its history and reputation would lend the appropriate "ambiance" for his new club.  Once again in the 50's, it opened as a roaring 20's style Dixieland Jazz spot.  During the 50's it became the place to go, while visiting Chicago to hear Dixieland Jass.  It underwent several expansions and remodeling, and eventually seated 350+, becoming the largest privately owned commercial venue (under roof) at the time of operation.  It was not beloved by the residential neighborhood that grew around it after World War II, despite having parking to easily support its capacity.

The club became internationally recognized and was regularly mentioned in various periodicals, including DOWN BEAT and MELODY MAKER magazine, the English equivalent.  In addition, a live recording was made there, appropriately titled  "A NIGHT AT THE RED ARROW" which is currently available on CD.

After many years of neglect, and local pressures it became the victim of the wrecking ball, and replaced by apartment buildings in the late 70's.