2553 W. Lunt Avenue
Original Owner: Joseph Aiello
Not many homes in Chicago boast such an infamous history as Helena and George Kaltezas's home. It was built by one of Chicago’s most notorious Gangsters, Joseph Aiello, for himself, his brother Dominic, and their wives and children in 1927. Joseph Aiello and his wife Catherine were both born in Sicily and claimed on their 1930 Census form that Joseph worked as a wholesale grocer. However, he is best known for fighting Alphonse Gabriel Capone for alcohol-distribution privileges on Chicago’s North Side during Prohibition.
Joseph Aiello owned the land at Rockwell Street and Lunt Avenue and developed the two-story apartment building and garages for his family, working with architect A. Capraro and contractor N. Currieri at a cost of $30,000. The Italianate brick structure towered over other homes in the neighborhood and offered peaceful treetop views of Indian Boundary Park from its front bay windows. The top floor offered other views, too. Rumor has it that Aiello and his gang used the attic space with its oval porthole window far above Rockwell Street as a lookout.
By 1930, Aiello had estimated the home’s value to be $65,000. He wouldn’t live long past the 1930 Census, however. Capone’s gang gunned him down on October 23, 1930, as he left his hideout on the West Side.
The first-floor apartment, has many features remaining from Joe Aiello’s day. The floor tile, the staircase, banister, and newel posts remain unchanged as you enter the building. Look up to see the decorative plaster rope detail on the groin-vaulted ceiling. Entering the first floor apartment, you will notice the ceiling detail carries into the entryway. The cove molding is original, as are ornate plaster cartouches above the doors, and large plaster pinecones found in the corners of the dining room ceiling. The hardwood floors and baseboard are original as well.
Through the years rooms were altered at the rear of the apartment, which allowed for installation of a new gas-burning fireplace. Helena has created a warm and inviting den adjoining the kitchen, which would be all the more interesting if walls could talk.