Arcana Cabana

Base of operations for the setting.


Like many places in Chicago, the Arcana Cabana’s history started long before it’s doors opened in 1872. Nestled in the downtown section of Chicago, the building as it stands now began as the private residence of a young doctor and his wife in 1850. Prior to that, the records are less clear, although references have been found linking it at one time to a butcher shop, a crematorium, and even a flower shop.

Fresh out of medical school, with dreams of helping the poor disenfranchised, the young doctor took his family savings and spent it all on the building. It would, he hoped, be the perfect spot for him to start his new family and practice. But alas, as so many dreams do, this one did not turn out as planned. His wife never bore the children he had hoped for, and the practice was feared by the locals. They complained that strange lights could be seen coming from the basement window and that sounds echoed through the narrow alley in front of the building at all hours of the night. It was even said that the doctor himself, while he lived there for over three decades, did not age a day. The only sign of his passing years was a cane he was sometimes seen to use. When his wife left the world, the doctor, who had long stopped practicing, lost the will to maintain the building. He let it fall into disrepair, and by 1872, when it became the Arcana Cabana, it was a dusty shell of a place where few dared to tread.

According the housing ledgers, the building was purchased in foreclosure in 1972 for a mere $15.00 by one Ambrosius Aurelianus. Ambrosius has recently arrived in the United States from Great Britain and immediately took it upon himself to fix the place and restore it to its original grandeur. By the end of the year, the renovations were complete and the Arcana Cabana, home of antiquities, unusual gifts, and obscurities, opened its doors to the public.

The store was not an instant success by any means, and even to this day very little know of it’s existence. The neighbors were still wary — this time with perhaps a bit more reason. Ambrosius was not the most sociable of figures. He mainly kept to himself, opening the store at odd hours and sometimes not at all. And the items with which he filled the store were worrisome to some more superstitious Chicagoans. It was no surprise that response to the store was lukewarm.

However, overtime, the Arcana Cabana became a destination for those people who needed to get their hands on special gifts, ingredients, or who were curious to find out more about loved ones, bosses, family, etc. They made their way through the front door, the tinkling sound of a tiny bell announcing their presence as they sought out their items. Ambrosius himself became a more stable member of the community — until he ended up disappearing for quite some time.

His great-grandson, another Ambrosius Aurelianus who is the current proprietor, came to run the store in 2003 and did little to change or update the look and inventory. He, along with his associate Jim ‘Dirge’ Wilson, both operate the store this day.

Items of Interest

Arcana Cabana

World of Darkness: My Chicago iDubya