History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

White Horse Inn
Location: 1426 N. 11th St., Milwaukee WI


approx. 1952
approx. 1960

Male/ female



While the White Horse Inn has been referred to by 'oldtimers' in Milwaukee, the about the only documentation we have of it is in City Directories from about 1955-1960.

However, we have received information that Hank Greenspun (1909-1989, who once worked for Bugsy Siegel) in 1952 used his Las Vegas newspaper, the 'Las Vegas Sun', to attack Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy during the height of McCarthyism. On October 25, 1952, he supposedly wrote that: "It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities." This is the earliest historical reference we have about the White Horse Inn (although not yet confirmed). (According to an article about Greenspan, McCarthy considered a libel suit against Greenspun but decided against it when he was told by his lawyers that if the case went ahead he would have to take the witness stand and answer questions about his sexuality. In an attempt to stop the rumours circulating, McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr.)

Contributor 'Bunny' remembers the White Horse as "the place to go when everywhere else was dead or closed -- because there was always a party going on." It was somewhat in the middle of nowhere before the freeway, at the intersections of McKinley, 11th and Winnebago Streets, just past the Pabst Brewery, which had to be a pretty sketchy place back then. It was torn down for the Hillside Interchange part of the freeway.

Researcher Michail Takach has also found the following note in local media: "On August 2, 1958, 25-year-old bartender Richard Edwardsen was arrested at the White Horse Inn (1422 N. 11 St.) for wearing an 'obscene apron.' He was charged $25, lost his bartending license, and was sentenced to mandatory psychiatric evaluation. No description of the apron was provided."

More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.



    (A book, "LGBT Milwaukee" by Michail Takach, seeks to make the story of LGBT Milwaukee accessible, visible, and portable for future generations--before it is too late. Some information on this bar came from research that Michail continues to do in preparation for a future book. Please help support our efforts by purchasing the book, and corresponding with us if you have more info.)


Credits: Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Most information on White Horse Inn contributed by Michail Takach.
Information about Hank Greenspan newspaper reference contributed by contributor 'Denny'.
Last updated: September-2019.

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