1147 Wenonah Ave., Oak Park | Acreage Photo
Sam Giancana

In Oak Park, the home where mobster Sam Giancana lived for 30 years recently hit the market for the first time since 1991. The Mediterranean-style bungalow at 1147 Wenonah Ave. was built in the late 1920s and designed by architect A.J. Fisher for first owner Joseph Leitzer. 

Zak Knebel of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago is co-listing the house with Camille Hoover for $1.1 million. Knebel says his clients have remodeled much of the house in their three decades living there.

Among their improvements he cites a full renovation of the basement where Giancana met his end. The lower-level space now includes a yoga/Pilates studio, family room, full bathroom and is plumbed for a second kitchen. The sellers also rebuilt the original tile roof, replaced copper gutters and downspouts, renovated some of the bathrooms, and added new replacement windows and a blue-stone patio.

Sam Giancana purchased the home at 1147 Wenonah Ave. in Oak Park in 1945 and lived there until his death in 1975. The house is on the market again for $1.1 million. | Acreage Photo

The five-bedroom, five-bathroom house retains many original features such as woodwork, hardwood floors and a marble fireplace mantel. The intact historical exterior and these original details likely look much as they did when Giancana purchased the house as a young married man with a distinctive career.

Born to Italian immigrants in 1908 in Chicago, various records list Giancana’s birth name as Gilormo Giangana or Salvatore Mooney Giancana. He is purported to have joined his first gang, the 42 Gang, as a teenager.

By the time Giancana was 20, he had been a suspect in three murders. In 1929, he was convicted of burglary and larceny and served a few months in the Joliet Correctional Center.

In 1933, he married Angeline DeTolve, and they had three daughters together before she died in 1954. The couple bought the Oak Park house in 1945, paying $32,000 in cash.

The spacious bungalow at 1147 Wenonah Ave. sits on a double lot and retains many of its original features, including its tile roof and hardwood trim on the main floor inside. | Acreage Photo

In the late 1930s Giancana became one of the first members of the 42 Gang to join the Chicago Outfit. For the next two decades, he was involved in illegal gambling, illegal liquor distribution and political rackets. Convicted of bootlegging in 1939, he served three years in prison.

Once released from prison in 1942, Giancana resumed his work with the Chicago Outfit, orchestrating a takeover of the South Side African American payout, or lottery, system. Partly due to the success of this venture, he was made boss of the Chicago Outfit in 1957.

Giancana is rumored to have helped John F. Kennedy Jr. win the 1960 election in Chicago and was likely involved in a CIA plot to kill Fidel Castro.

In 1965, he refused to testify when called before a grand jury and was sentenced to a year in jail, and his boss, Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo, replaced him within the outfit. Upon his release in 1966, Giancana fled to Mexico to avoid further questioning by a grand jury. He remained in Mexico until he was arrested by Mexican authorities in July 1974.

When he returned to Oak Park, Giancana was given a police detail to guard his house, but shortly before he was supposed to appear before the Church Committee, which was investigating ties between the CIA and La Cosa Nostra, a gunman entered the Oak Park house through the basement and shot Giancana seven times in the head and neck, killing him. 

Rumors abound about his murder, including that his murderer was an acquaintance for whom he was cooking peppers and sausages in his home’s basement summer kitchen. No one was ever charged with his murder, and he was interred in the family mausoleum in Mount Carmel Cemetery with his wife, Angeline.

Giancana’s colorful criminal lifestyle and his violent end have been the subject of interest for decades, but at the end of the day, the house where he lived for 30 years will likely be purchased by someone like the sellers, who found the south Oak Park neighborhood a family-friendly place to live.

Sam Giancana with his wife, Angelina, and his daughter, Antoinette.

Knebel first listed the home on the Private Listing Network (PLN) but says this decision was based more on getting the listing out in a limited fashion while it was prepped for sale rather than the notoriety of the home’s former owner.

He says listing on the PLN can be a benefit for sellers for many reasons, and he discusses the pluses and minuses of listing on the PLN with each seller. He expects the home will shortly be listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS.)

For Knebel, it has never been necessary to use the PLN to provide privacy for a famous client. The house has been featured on local tours on Mafia history and is well-known already for its connection to the notorious gangster, but Knebel says that notoriety didn’t play into his pricing.

“The home was priced based on comparable properties, being on a double lot in spectacular condition,” he said.

Join the discussion on social media!