Southport Lanes auction: Everything inside iconic Chicago bar up for sale

They may just be some old battered bowling pins, but they are also a part of Chicago history that is coming to a close.

And for the right price, they could be yours.

After nearly 100 years, Southport Lanes in Lakeview has closed – and everything inside is now on the auction block.

"So you’re looking at the remnants of Southport Lanes," said owner Steve Soble.

Soble has owned the North Side institution for 30 years, but says the pandemic was the equivalent of the dreaded 7-10 split for the historic business.

"It’s painful. It’s bittersweet. I had a great run," Soble said. "I really hoped I would be able to sell it to someone who would be able to keep Southport Lanes going."


Built around 1900 as a Schlitz Tied House—the giant Schmitz globe still on the outside wall—the bowling lanes were added in 1922 to make up for money lost during prohibition and provide cover for the brothel upstairs.

"And I think that’s what’s amazing. It’s just been a neighborhood fixture for so long," said Soble.

Now, all of it is being auctioned off online.

Bowling shoes, bowling balls, a few remaining pins, and a pair of vintage scoring tables.

"These are really nice pieces that people are bidding up because they’re really old school," said Soble. "Cause you score by hand here. You have to know math."

How about a bowling lane for your basement along with the pinsetter’s box? Southport was the last bowling alley in Chicago to use human pinsetters, not machines.

There are also scores of pictures, posters, a hand-painted Schlitz mural, boxes of tap handles, wooden phone booths, and the original bar.

"These are actual beer barrels that were installed into the bar that I love," said Soble. "It’s one of those little details that I just love about this place."

The online auction ends Tuesday morning and most of those bidding are looking for a keepsake of what is now just a warm memory.

"A lot of businesses didn’t make it and this business is one of those that people thought it was gonna be here forever. And quite frankly, I did too," said Soble. "I think it really struck a nerve."