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A small piece of Minnesota’s LGBT history faces an uncertain fate, according to a report by the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

City of St. Paul officials have targeted the building at 601 N. Western Avenue for demolition. That space once housed Lucy’s Bar, a LGBT watering hole that served a mainly lesbian crowd. It was even selected as the Reader’s Choice for the 2002 CityPages best of the Twin Cities “Best Lesbian Bar.” Performers such as Ti-nea and Mia Dorr often graced the stage at Lucy’s.

The bar opened in 2000 and was not without controversy.

CityPages noted in 2001:

Since the beginning of the year, Frogtownresidents and police say, Lucy’s (formerly the legendary Blues Saloon) has become a menace (in 2000, the cops were summoned to the establishment on just 27 occasions). The bar advertises itself as gay-friendly; on weeknights it’s an occasionally boisterous saloon where young lesbians and old neighborhood regulars drink cheap beer and shoot pool side by side. On weekend nights Lucy’s is transformed into a two-story nightclub featuring hip-hop music and attracting a younger, more volatile crowd. On Friday and Saturday nights, patrons spill out onto the streets of the residential neighborhood, blasting music and drinking beer. K-9 units are occasionally summoned to chase off the post-closing-time crowds.

The bar’s boisterous repution was bolstered by the bad behavior of an off duty St. Paul police officer:

Around 1:00 a.m. on October 19, St. Paul police officer Jon Loretz was involved in a brawl at Lucy’s Saloon, a bar in the Frogtown neighborhood that caters to a largely lesbian clientele. Several patrons of the establishment claimed that the 6’5″, 250-pound off-duty sergeant had yelled homophobic slurs, brandished a gun, and cracked one person over the head with a beer bottle.

Loretz was the son of St. Paul’s Chief of Police William Finney. Not surprisingly, the investigation into Loretz’ behavior stalled.

Lucy’s closed in 2004.

Including being a LGBT social space, the building has been used by German immigrants in the early 1900s, blues music fans in the 1970s and 1980s, the Hmong community in the late-2000s, and now a Somali couple is trying to renovate the building.

The Twin Cities Daily Planet explored the sordid tale of a fight with the city to save the building.

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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