The Club Delisa~ 1938-1958


The Club was owned by four DeLisa brothers, they were of Italian decent.  The Club DeLisa was legally established in 1934-1958, prior to 1934, the club operated as a speakeasy on the Chicago’s South side. The DeLisa brothers operated an illegal establishment during the prohibition. The illegitimately selling of alcoholic beverages, cock-tailed with gambling and in most cases prostitution, created the birth of “rum-running and organized crime.”

It is not known how long the club operated prior to the passing of the 18th amendment. The documented history of the Club DeLisa began in 1934, one year after the 18th amendment was passed.  “In 1941, the original building burned down and was immediately replaced with the New Club DeLisa.” (DeLisa)

LGBT Community

Club DeLisa was one of the first night spots in Chicago that catered to a diversified audience, including the LGBTs community. (Cabello)

Articles: Queer Bronzeville: African American LGBTs on Chicago’s South Side, 1900-1985 

Queer Bronzeville


“DeLisa was known as a “Black and Tan” establishment, they provided nightly entertainment in an array of show presentations that highlighted and featured jazz, blues, soul music, dancers, comedians, the DeLisa Chorines and Red Saunders and his band.” (DeLisa) This hot spot was located on Garfield Boulevard at 55th and State Street on Chicago’s South side.  The personal collection of Elnorah Huff-Williamson features autographed photographs of local Chicago artist as well as famous artist. Fats Domino, Bill Doggett, and an act that included black face and Bobby Blue Bland, amongst others are featured in the collection.


2016-01-29 08.35.29

The Club DeLisa, Chicago, n.d



Club DeLisa Chorines, Chicago 1950’s



Old Club DeLisa was located~5512-16 S. State Street before the fire- (1933-1941)

The “New” Club DeLisa was located~5521 S. State Street- (1941-1958)


Red Saunders and His Band

Red Saunders and his Band were the house band for Club DeLisa more than 21 years.






Taken at the New Club DeLisa, Unknown group, n.d.


4 thoughts on “The Club Delisa~ 1938-1958

  1. My mother performed as a Dancer at the club DeLisa I am curious if she is in your archive? Is their away to research are these all of your photos… lovely


  2. How did you find the Collection? I was told by family historians that my grandmother was the clubs photographer Clara Mae Olive. I was tying to find her work


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