History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Businesses - Retail Businesses

Telephone House
Location: 2nd & National Ave.


Sept. 1986




The Telephone House was a telephone business owned and run by Jimmy O'Conner. It was located on the north-east corner of 2nd and National (diagonal from the LaCage Aux Folles gay dance bar), and offered interesting designs and specialty telephones in the age before portable or cellular phones.

(Owner Jimmy O'Conner had previously been involved with two popular gay bars, River Queen and Gary's.)

The Telphone House is perhaps best remembered for "the Fire", a huge blaze that destroyed the business, and was the talk of the gay community in September and October of 1986.

According to the contributor to this article, Jeff (Wolf) Waldecker lit the match that burned the Telephone House. He is said to have turned State's Evidence against Jimmy Zingale (who owned the property) to avoid prison, but ended up there himself after a drunk driving arrest revoked his probationary sentence.

(Jeff Waldecker had previously managed the Auctioneer's Inn II restaurant for George Prentice, who at the time of the Telphone House fire owned and operated the wildly successful LaCage Aux Folles gay dance bar, located kitty-corner from the Telephone House. Waldecker, Zingale, and Prentiss were all involved with Circus Circus bar as well (another popular gay dance club at the time).


Steppin' Out: the fire, Sept. 1986
(see lower right corner or article)
(In Step, vol. 3 no. 18, pg. 10)

Credits: Bulk of information and photographs contributed by Rick Stabler, Sept. 2009
with additional recollections collected and organized by Jamie Taylor.
Website concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: October-2009.