HistoryCop was founded by Ray Johnson, a life-long Chicago area resident and history buff who is a former criminal investigator.
Welcome to History Cop’s “The Real H. H. Holmes in the Loop Adventure,” powered by Vamonde. This adventure will take you to various locations in the Chicago Loop that have a historical link to the 19th century con man and murderer Herman Webster Mudgett, who is known to most of the world under his most commonly used alias, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Throughout the adventure you will learn about the historical significance of the location through videos, audio, text and photos and also through your own individual experiences at the different sites. There is no wrong or right order of visitation to the sites or method to move from site to site. How you conduct your adventure is completely up to you, although in the Loop it is usually easier to walk or bike to the different locations. I will make occasional references to a DIVVY bike rental station if it is convenient to the location. You can visit www.divvybikes.com for more info.
Now, for a little history on our dear Dr. Holmes. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett on May 16, 1861 to Levi and Theodate Mudgett of Gilmanton, N.H. Holmes wrote in his autobiography that he was raised in a strict Methodist household. He also blamed his fascination with anatomy and dissection on an incident in which, as a child, he was led into the local doctor’s office and forced to gaze upon a human skeleton.
He married Clara Lovering (his first and only legitimate wife) on July 4, 1878 and had one child, Robert Mudgett, two years later. In 1884 he graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine and shortly after moved to Chicago where he registered as a pharmacist with the State of Illinois as DR. HENRY HOWARD HOLMES.
Holmes was a prolific con man driven by money and ego but would occasionally murder someone if he could profit from their death or if they became a liability because they learned too much about his criminal schemes. His love of money was so great that when disposing of victims he would strip the soft tissue from their bodies and sell their skeletons to the local medical colleges. The going rate was $200 and, better yet, there were no questions asked. In order to try to cash in on the upcoming 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition or "White City" as it became known, Holmes had a three-story hotel built on the south side of 63rd St. near the intersection of Wallace Ave. This structure would later become known as the “murder castle” once Holmes’ schemes were laid bare. The building had stores on the first floor and hotel rooms on the third floor. It was the second floor that contained his killing rooms which were piped in such a way to allow Holmes to murder certain guests with gas in their sleep. The second floor seemed to be designed to confuse guests in that it had hallways that led nowhere, secret rooms, windowless rooms and chutes large enough for a human body that led from the upper floors to the basement. Holmes’ castle remained until it was demolished in 1938 to make room for the U.S. Post Office that stands just to the west of where the castle once stood. While his “murder castle,” made famous by Eric Larson’s bestselling book “Devil in The White City,” stood in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Englewood, our adventure is going to focus on the lesser known exploits of Holmes right here in Chicago’s Loop. So get ready to walk in the footsteps of Dr. H. H. Holmes as he swindled, cheated and murdered his way through Chicago’s Loop while brushing shoulders with some of the City’s most historic figures.