The Milwaukee bra ban that was in effect because the city considered “bras as a fire hazard” has been withdrawn. “’Oh my goodness, we won,’ cried Marcy Skowronski, the always colorful 87-year-old owner of the south side bar. ‘We’re going to have a party to throw the bras back up’.” According to a May 16, 2013, Milwaukee County report, the bra ban on the Holler House on 2042 West Lincoln Avenue in Milwaukee in Wisconsin was lifted on Thursday.
The Holler House is more than 100 years old and was founded on Sept. 13, 1908, by Marcy Skowronski’s father-in law. After Marcy Skowronski’s father-in law, “Iron Mike” Skowronski and Marcy’s husband Gene died, Marcy Skowronski continued to run the tavern which is the oldest certified bowling alley in the United States.
In honor of its 100-year celebration, the Associated Press wrote a report about the Holler House, which has been rated by Esquire to be one of the best bars in America, and described its atmosphere.
“The walls of this tiny bowling alley are so close together you’d think a bowler would feel claustrophobic. But stand before this pair of lanes, in the same spot where bowlers have been lacing up since before World War I, and the strongest reaction you feel is captivation.”
In preparation of its 100-year anniversary, the Holler House got its first thorough cleaning in almost 40 years and besides finding “five wooden bowling balls, each with only two finger holes and weighing about 15 pounds,” the cleaning team also found a thousand of bras.
“One casualty of the cleanup was a naughty collection that used to grace the walls and ceilings of the tavern upstairs. About a thousand bras used to hang from every available object, each signed by the woman who left it.”
Marcy Skowronski still remembers the night that the bra tradition began.
“’About 40 years ago we were sitting here drinking and, I don’t know, I guess we started taking our clothes off,’ said Skowronski, sipping a vodka tonic. ‘It just became a tradition that women would leave a bra the first time they came here’.”
Last month, a building inspector from the city of Milwaukee ordered the bras to be taken down after the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services inspected the Holler House and determined that the bras hanging from the ceiling did not meet “the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701.”
Marcy Skowronski, the 87-year-old girl who has been taken care of the Holler House for decades describes the recent inspector’s visit best with her own words.
“We’ve had bras hanging here for 45 years. It’s been a charm of the place. So here comes this gal, and she’s walking in here like Lady Astor’s pet horse, you know, and she says she wants those bras down because they’re a fire hazard. Now how can a bra be a fire hazard unless someone is wearing it? Honest to God.”
Fearing that the city inspector would return and slap the Holler House with a fine that could range from $150 to $10,000 a day, Marcy Skowronski’s son-in-law took down the bras.
After the dozens of bras dangling on the ceiling along with some men’s underwear were taken down, Marcy Skowronski went downtown last week to appeal the order but was told that she had missed the deadline.
When Jim Stingl, the author of the Milwaukee County article, visited the Holler House earlier in the week, he found everyone “was burned out about the bras.” After Jim Stingl and other supporters of the bra tradition began to ask questions and rallied against the bra ban, the city’s common sense finally prevailed and the Milwaukee bra ban was removed.
“Realizing its straps were twisted on this one, the department Thursday dismissed the order. The official explanation for the DD-sized mistake says something about the bar having a smaller occupancy rate than originally thought, and therefore a less stringent fire code.”
Randy Romans, who has been servicing the tavern’s jukebox for the past 34 years said that “this place is so old that the bras should be grandfathered in. Or grandmothered in.”
Marcy Skowronski, the 87-year-old Holler House girl who thought that the tavern looked “mighty naked” without the bras, is rejoicing and looking forward to restoring the order in the universe. “We’re going to have a party to throw the bras back up.”