Prostitution in Racine

From the Racine Journal-Times, April 29, 1984

But, on the south side of Racine, buildings still stand that were known as “whorehouses” in the 1930s, recalled Edward Aiello of 3364 Green St.

Aiello, who operated The Hub restaurant and bar at 1346 Grand Ave. for 34 years and is now retired, recalled an area known as Lakeside where four well-known houses of prostitution operated.

“Let’s see, there was Ma Nolan’s, Marie’s, Jack Moran’s and Ernie DeWood’s,” said Aiello, who would have been about 14 and living at 2215 Racine St. at the time. Jack Moran’s and Ernie DeWood’s were taverns, and the other two were residential houses, he said.

Aiello said Ma Nolan’s was on the northeast corner of Clark and 21st Streets, DeWood’s place was at 2141 Clark St. Jack Moran’s was at 2246 Mead St., and Marie’s was located on the northwest corner of 21st and Racine streets.

“There’s a milk stand where Marie’s once did business,” Aiello said. “I used to run an ice shack right across the street from Marie’s. I could see what was going on. The older guys used to tell us kids stories, too.”

DeWood’s Place

Ernest DeWood, 2141 Clark street, and Arthur Francis, Highway 20, town of Dover
July 16, 1938
There is no longer a 2141 Clark Street, but 2143 looks like the best candidate for being a former tavern. 2141 was listed at various times as the Hummingbird Tavern, the Humming Bird Tavern, and Paragon Smoke Shop.
May 18, 1942. DeWood has fled to Illinois but was located by authorities.

Ma Nolan

Could this be “Ma Nolan” in the 1939 Racine City Directory?
2053 Clark Street

Racine Journal-Times, June 12, 1935
Witnesses Gone; Judge Holds Up Assault Cases
Another adjournment of 24 hours was granted the state by Judge E. R. Burgess in municipal court this morning in the cases of Leo Steinke and Edgar Dubecki, charged with holding up Mrs. Carrie Nolan in her home at Clare and Twenty-first streets the night of Feb. 22. If Mrs. Nolan and Dorothy Kramer, material witnesses, do not appear by 10 a. m. tomorrow, a further adjournment may not be granted to the state.
O. M. Edwards, assistant district attorney, explained to the court that Mrs. Nolan’s mother is critically ill in St. Louis and that she was called there late last week. Miss Kramer is believed to have accompanied her.
Jury Ordered to Return
Mr. Edwards insisted he could not see where further adjournment of the cases would prejudice the interest of the defendants and said that he felt that, in the interests of justice, protection for citizens and law enforcement in Racine, the state should have some right as regards further adjournment.
Attorney J. C. Wilbershide, for the defendants, opposed further adjournments and contended that the interest of the defendants will be prejudiced if one is granted and that it would be reversible error if the district attorney’s request is granted.
Judge Burgess, however, said he would grant the state and additional day. The jury was called into court and ordered to return at 10 a. m. tomorrow.
(This case was dismissed.)

Carrie Nolan, 1880-1939

Jack Moran

Jack Moran Waits for Trial to Continue, December 10, 1942

Racine Journal-Times, December 10, 1942
Moran Says He Heard ‘Rumors’ Of Prostitution in His Place
Ordered Tenants to Move, He Testifies; Case Nears Close
A story of how a “Mae Moran” – not he – operated a house of prostitution above his former tavern at 2246 Mead street and how a mistake of a secretary on a letter of recommendation years ago caused him to change his name from Morin to Moran was told this morning to a circuit court jury by Jack Moran, charge with operating a house of ill fame at his former place of business.
The case is expected to go to the jury this afternoon.
Says He Sub-Leased Rooms.
Moran, who gave his age as 52 and said he had been married 34 years and had two married daughters, testified that he sub-leased the rooms above his tavern Nov. 1, 1939, to a “Mae Moran,” who is no relative of his. He said he kept two rooms upstairs as his Racine residence.
“Mae Moran” kept the upstairs rooms until sometime in December, 1941, for which she paid Moran $35 a month rent. He said he had the telephone extension upstairs because he was under a doctor’s care and could answer the phone without having to go downstairs.
Moran said his right name was John Morin, but that several years ago he changed it after a secretary had made a mistake called him Moran in a letter of recommendation which he received.
In September, 1941, Moran said he went to northern Wisconsin to fish, but took ill and spent about 10 days in the hospital there. On his return to Racine, he testified, he spent about a week in St. Mary’s hospital and then went to his home in Kenosha. Moran asserted that in November and December, 1941, he was at his tavern about once a week when he came to Racine to see his physician.
Heard Some “Rumors.”
Moran said he had heard a few “rumors” in December, 1941, about what was going on upstairs of his place and said that he requested the parties to move, which they are said to have done shortly before Christmas, 1941.
Publicity given him last February forced him to move from here, Moran said. He revealed that he went to West Allis, where he claimed he again was forced out of business because of unfavorable publicity.
Under cross-examination by Dist. Atty. Richard G. Harvey Jr., Moran revealed that he had two rooms above his tavern that he used as living quarters and admitted that he had heard the “rumors” of prostitution above his place from customers last December.
Knew of No Charges, He Says.
Regarding his conversation with Lt. of Detectives Earl Olson, the district attorney and an ensign from Great Lakes, Moran denied saying anything about diseased girls. He denied having talked to Lieutenant Olson at all on the occasion of his visit to the tavern with the district attorney and the ensign.
Moran said he did not know about a warrant being out for his arrest until it was served on him. He said he had been in Racine on March 3. The warrant was served on Moran in West Allis on March 10.
Moran admitted that the man mentioned as “Moran” in the warrant for his arrest was he, and also agreed that he had operated a tavern at 2246 Mead street.
Others Testify.
Robert Burns, 600 Arthur avenue; Robert D. Rowlands, 1130 Main street, and Peter Simonsen, 3200 Taylor avenue, all testified to having business relations with Moran in his tavern. All said the tavern had a good reputation and that they did not see Moran in his place of business in November and December last year.
Dr. S. J. Faber, physician, said he had treated Moran for ulcers in September, 1941, and after releasing him from the hospital suggested he rest and get proper diet. Moran is said to have told the doctor that he was going to Kenosha.
Under cross-examination, Dr. Faber said Moran made office calls about once a week for a time after being released from the hospital. He said he knew a Mae Moran and had been her physician. He also admitted to Harvey’s questions that he “may have” treated females from 2246 Mead street. Asked whether they were prostitutes, Dr. Faber said, “I never ask my patients what they are.”
State Calls 12 Witnesses.
Twelve witnesses took the stand Wednesday afternoon as the state, through Dist. Atty. Richard G. Harvey, Jr., presented its case against Moran.
A visit to the Moran tavern on Feb. 6, 1942, with the district attorney and an ensign from the naval stations at Great Lakes, was describe by Lt. Earl Olson of the police department.
Moran, according to Olson, is alleged to have said that he had no girls at his place since “around Christmas” and, when questioned about venereal diseases, stated that all his girls were “clean.” The navy was interested in the place, it was said, because of the number of sailors reported to be coming to the place.
Olson said a search of the place was made with the permission of Moran. In the upstairs bed rooms, Olson asserted, he noticed several articles of women’s clothing. A notebook, alleged to have contained an earnings report of one of the girls, was found during the search.
Testify As to Reputation.
Health Commissioner I. F. Thompson; Dr. G. E. Hoyt, Menomonee Falls, deputy state health officer specializing in venereal diseases; Harold E. Welker, 2237 Clark street, who lived near Moran’s former tavern, and Edward Lewis, chairman of the town of Mt. Pleasant since 1936, all testified that 2246 Mead street was reputed to be a house of ill fame.
A Racine man told of visiting Moran’s tavern sometime in November or December, 1942. He said he was permitted by the bartender to go upstairs and that he did not see Moran upstairs while he was there.
Dominic Wells, 2217 Howe street, told the court he owned the building operated by Moran and that the latter was a tenant in 1941, paying $100 a month rent to occupy the whole building. He said that he had talked with Moran about sub-leasing the upstairs in 1939 to help pay the rent, but asserted that Moran always paid the rent.
Others Testify.
Edmund L. King, Route 3, Great Bay road, town clerk of Mt. Pleasant, told the court that a liquor license for 2246 Mead street had been issued to Moran. He also produced a voting registration card, giving Moran’s residence address as 2246 Mead street.
B. E. Hull, 1351 Deane boulevard, manager of the Racine branch of the Wisconsin Telephone company, and Fed Pahl, 1108 Grand avenue, collector for the company, testified that there was a telephone downstairs at the former Moran tavern and an extension upstairs.
Emil Gunther, 414 Harvey drive, and Phil Binks, 624 West boulevard, both employed by the Wisconsin Gas & Electric Co., told of gas and electric services at 2246 Mead street, under the name of Moran, and said these services were discontinued Feb. 24, 1942.

Marie’s on the northwest corner of 21st and Racine streets

This is the northwest corner of 21st (Caron Butler) and Racine Street. It appears to be a mixed-use building with retail in the front and a house in the back.
The northwest corner of 21st (Caron Butler) and Racine Street is 2052 Racine Street. The Cocoanut Grove Tavern seems like a candidate for “Marie’s,” if you study Ed Aiello’s statement.

However, there is a “Marie’s” in the general area, just not where Ed Aiello said it was. Marie’s Tea Room was at 2013 Mead Street. Surely there would not be prostitution at a tea room, would there be? Sure enough:

Marie's Tea Room, 2013 Mead Street, Raided by Police
Five policemen raided "Marie's Tea Room" at 2013 Mead street Friday evening, arresting Marie Parker, the proprietor, and Ruby Christie, an inmate. The latter was held at the county jail.
Two charges were made against the proprietor, one of maintaining a disorderly house and the other of selling intoxicants. "John Doe" figured in the case, police alleging that he was sold a drink of intoxicating liquor.
The raid conducted by the police morals squad and Policemen Keys, Scholz and Lenzke, followed the arrest in the tea room a few evenings earlier of Clarence Witt, 2015 Clark street, on a charge of interfering with members of the morals squad when they were questioning the proprietor in a case on which they were working and in which a woman was involved.
Friday morning Witt, who denied the charge, made accusations of over officiousness against a member of the morals squad, but Judge E. R. Burgess found him guilty of the charge and fined him $10 and costs.
Marie’s Tea Room, 2013 Mead Street, Raided by Police
Racine Journal-Times, February 7, 1937

2013 Mead Street no longer exists at the time of this page, 2024.

Think the last bordello raided was the one next to the old Post Office on Main Street in 1955. I was going to UW Racine extension at 7th and Lake and was near the dress shop that was raided. Don't remember much else.
Last bordello raided in 1955, per Vyto Kapocius

Mayor Clamps Lid on Resorts
June 16, 1913

Houses of Ill Fame Ordered to Close Up By the First of July

After operating practically unmolested for the last fifteen years or more, the two resorts comprising Racine’s red light district, at 222 and 226 State street, will be closed after July 1, orders to that effect being served last week by Chief of Police H. C. Baker. This action was taken by the police department on receipt of orders from Mayor W. S. Goodland.

The mayor could not be reached today so that his reasons for ordering the two resorts closed could be obtained. It is thought, however, that the recent fight of the Ministerial Union against the two resorts is responsible. The ministers are said to have taken up the matter with the mayor, which resulted in his giving these orders.