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.