The Shack, south of Kenosha, was pretty much that: a somewhat rundown building with a low profile, tucked away on the west side of Highway 32, between Kenosha and the Illinois state line. The low whitewashed one-story building was non-descript in front, housing a dance bar area and another bar area to the rear. The bar advertised in the August 1972 issue of the GPU News that it would open on September 15 of that year, "newly remodeled, under new ownership, operated by gay management", listing Bob, Frank and Mark. At one point, future Milwaukee bar owner Al Thomas worked at the Shack.
There were some holes and odd openings in the building in later years, and one recalls it was sometimes possible to see into the rest rooms from the outside. However the bar was very popular with residents of Racine, Kenosha and towns in north-eastern Illinois (such as Zion), largely because it was somewhat out of the way and therefore anonymous to go to and park at.
The first ad for The Shack (in the August 1972 issue of GPU News) says "formerly Liddia's", but unsure if that was a gay bar... But then, the first known advertisement for Lydia's Bar in Racine (in the same issue of the GPU News) says "formerly in Kenosha"- so it was presumably at least gay-friendly.
In 1985, with the widening acceptance of gay bars, the owner of the Shack closed this bar and opened Club 94, right off I-94. Club 94 became wildly popular in comparison, attracting all the same people as did The Shack, but also people from Milwaukee and northern Illinois.
More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.
Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: June-2007.