Former gangster hangout to reopen as bath house

January 4, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The bath house on Division in Wicker Park was renowned for the quality of its steam and the power of some of the conversations held in its midst. Now, new owners want to renew that history by bringing those steam rooms back to life.

After lying dormant for three years, the Russian and Turkish bathhouse on Division is set to regain its glory.

Custom, rebuilt brick ovens filled with granite stones will steam the air to 190 degrees for a uniquely dry heat that promises to wick toxins out of visitors the way it was done yesteryear.

"We want to make sure that all the components we built that we don't stray away from the old traditional methods but amplify and create a more pleasant atmosphere," said Alex Loyfman, Red Square Spa.

That history has been preserved throughout the gut job this million dollar renovation represents.

Sot Donna boltin Designer "We wanted to infuse it with the Russian tradition," said designer Donna Boltin. "Engraved on the front of it is 'Russian and Turkish Bathhouse,' so we wanted to continue the time period."

Unlike the days when gangsters visited for a steam and a rubdown, women will be welcomed throughout the new Red Square. There are separate facilities for them and co-ed facilities where people can meet all designed to transport people to a different time.

"We wanted to bring this idea when you are outside of the Red Square, but yet is very warming and inviting," Boltin said. "Then as you progress, we wanted to leave the idea of dining in a train car in this time period."

Loyfka says in its heyday the bathhouse had a client list in the thousands. The new Red Square will invite patrons to intersperse time clearing their minds with food and good cheer, delivered in a 21st century Russian style.

"Demand is high, everyone from politicians to movie stars everybody loves this place," Loyfman said.

Red Square is scheduled to open sometime next month and a visit will cost as little as $25. The owners are waiting for final inspection approval from the city of Chicago.

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