History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Businesses - Spas/ Bath Houses/ Health Clubs

Midtowne Spa
Location: 315 S. Water Street


approx. 2000
(still open Dec. 2005)




Midtowne Spa health club was opened as a franchise, with all its other outlets in Texas. Although it has a large workout facility and tanning bed, plus sauna, steam room, and outdoor hot tub, it is generally accepted within the gay community to be a gay "bath house", the type of establishment widely accepted as being a place for consenting men to find anonymous sex.

The Spa has also hosted various special events, such as New Years Eve and Halloween parties, using "The Garage" in the back.

From the day it opened, the CIty of Milwaukee has been a thorn in the Spa's side, making every possible attempt to harass and close the business. The gay community has stood by the Spa, believing that it was better to have a controlled environment for this type of activity, as an option to sex in public places such as parks, rest rooms, etc. Both the BESTD CLinic and ARCW have been especially supportive by conducting regular screening for HIV and other STD's in the Spa itself (with the BESTD Clinic holding at least one HIV testing outreach every month for virtually the entire time the Spa has been open).

Late in 2005, the harassment continued, including requirements that doors to changing rooms be left open at all times while occupied, and requiring at least the temporary closing of any rooms that might encourage open sex.

The web site of the Midtown Spa chain says about the Milwaukee club (in December 2005):

    Midtowne Spa - Milwaukee is right at home in the colorful Walker's Point, just south of the historic third ward at 315 South Water Street (near Florida, make a hard left onto Water Street).

    Midtowne Spa occupies a "cream city brick" building on two floors with an outdoor patio. There is abundant on street parking and an off street parking lot which accommodates 60 cars. All parking is free.

    The Spa is Americans with disabilities compliant and has a ramp access to the front door, along with a handicap parking space in the alley.

    On our first floor is our reception area, the locker room which is equipped with full size lockers, a full weight room with in floor heat and air conditioning. The Cybex Gallileo line of weight equipment is state of the art. There is also Life Fitness cardio exercise equipment including Lifecycles, Stepper, and Treadmill. There are both free weights and dumbbells. Also in this area, are drink and snack vending machines.

    The wet area has a 12 man cedar sauna room, a group shower area, and a steam room for 20 guys. Outside the back door is a patio with a volleyball net and our whirlpool. In the back of the patio is our warehouse and the site of future parties and fund-raisers such as "The Garage". Check this site for future events and leave your email address for notification.

    The second floor of the Spa has private, lockable changing rooms, a large TV room that we also show movies on, a private shower, and a smoking room. The smoking room has its own exhaust system. The smoking room and the patio are the only exceptions to our smoke free environment.

Reception area

Workout area
Tanning bed

Smoking Lounge

Building, Dec. 2005

Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: 18-December-2005.