Best Little Whorehouse in Longfellow

The Minneapolis Issues List has an interesting discussion about prostitution on Lake Street. Apparently, there was a recent bust at a “health club” at 515 E. Lake Street. Wizard Marks has some background on the history of prostitution along East Lake near 35W in the thread.

Tom Madden’s post was most interesting to me. His office, which used to be a “house of ill repute,” is three blocks from my home.

Last prostitution business on Lake St.

While I don’t know the details on those two in particular, I was quickly brought up to speed on the history of prostitution on the eastern end of Lake Street as I worked on renovating my office space.

My office is located in a former house of ill repute on Lake Street not far from the river. The renovation process uncovered interesting items including an escape hatch that had been boarded up many years ago. A packet of money envelopes (alas – no money in them) dating back to 1972 that fell from behind a wall we tore down. When pulling down the ceiling, in addition to a bottle of holy water, I did find a $10 check from an individual dating to the early 1970s. I often wonder what would happen if I drove the check to the person at that check’s address to return it to them.

During the renovation, many neighbors came and shared stories of their joint ongoing efforts to get rid of this particular prostitution house. We have many thanks to give to those who worked so hard to clean up this part of Lake St.

Tom Madden
Lowry Hill
Longfellow office

I second Tom’s thanks to those who worked to get rid of this prostitution house. I get the impression that the Longfellow neighborhood, has changed a LOT over the past decade or so.

You may be wondering, “Where is Tom’s office?” Fine, I’ll tell you: It’s at 2945 44th Ave S, which puts it in the building behind the Dairy Queen.


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Seriously. That building used to house a prostitution business called Riverside Health Club. I’ve heard nuggets about this from neighbors of mine in Longfellow, but would love to hear more from people who lived around here at the time it was there.

For now, here’s a clip from a 1996 CityPages when someone from their staff stopped by to learn about membership fees:

City Pages – All New! Page 3

Riverside Health Club
2945 44th Ave.

“We don’t have any exercise equipment. I can’t let you inside unless you’re going to pay.” Kim, the trainer who answers the door at the Riverside Health Club is apparently in the middle of her own fitness regimen; she is in no mood to answer the queries of a prospective member. Located in a residential neighborhood directly behind a Dairy Queen, the lobby of the Riverside is decorated with a plastic ficus tree and a silver-and-black deco mirror. It matches Kim’s shiny negligee and robe. As anyone will tell you, nonrestrictive clothing is essential during a vigorous workout. What about monthly rates and introductory discounts? “I don’t have to answer you,” Kim says, conversant in how to exercise her Fifth Amendment rights if nothing else. Though the slight fitness experts, hefty rates, absent equipment and restrictive admissions may be discouraging, the endurance of these businesses suggests that a loyal core clientele have been satisfied. This is known: Day or night, one need never have cause to “work out” alone.

3533 E Lake St used to be home to another “health club”:

East Lake Health Club
3533 E. Lake Street

“We offer a sauna, a shower, and a rubdown for $45,” Sadie explains from behind a Plexiglas window at the East Lake. A competitive price. So how does the equipment measure up? What about a monthly rate? “Um… we have other ladies working, would you like to meet them too?” Why not–a good rapport with a trainer can make all the difference. We meet the other ladies; they strut past the window in bikinis, like models at the end of the runway: “Hi I’m Kathy, how are you.” “Hi, I’m Penny, would you like to come in and try a session?” Their own phenotypic fitness is unremarkable. In the corner of the room is a 35-inch television– possibly used to show videos for aerobics. There is no exercise equipment on-site and no advertised relationship with either Dayton’s or the YMCA. One of the club’s neighbors, R.O. “Dick” Johnson, president of Local 7200 of the Communication Workers of America, notes that the Health Club has been in the community for nearly 15 years. “It seems more active this year than it has been in the past. I don’t know what they’re offering now.” Perhaps those aerobics videos?

Family & Children’s Service has a Longfellow branch at 4129 E Lake St with a program called PRIDE (from PRostitution to Independence, Dignity and Equality) designed to help get women out of prostitution, and an additional program called TeenPRIDE designed to help teens avoid getting into prostitution and deal with online sexual advances.

6 thoughts on “Best Little Whorehouse in Longfellow”

  1. Pingback: at east-lake.net
  2. Does anyone know what on Earth is going in at the intersection of 27th Avenue and 28th Street? It’s across the street from that little Asian takeout place.

  3. Why yes…the lot at 2701 E 28th St. is being developed with a cluster of townhomes. There were community meetings back in 2006, and if you Google the address you can see real estate listings for the project, info on variances granted for the development, etc.

  4. Did these types of businesses really bother you that much, or did you just have to play holier-than-thou-perverts to give yourself a feeling of superiority?

    I’m sure you feel pretty high and mighty condemning prostitutes and their customers, but you need to remember something. There are a LOT more guys than you might think who don’t have a lot the of social ability required to succeed against many women’s increasingly difficult expectations of men in general.

    The desire for contact is still strong, but what do you think will be the ultimate outcome of doing away with places like this where they can relieve this tension for the right price? As a former adult bookstore worker, I can give you that answer: the sexual frustration they used to be able to relieve at these businesses builds up and turns into aggression. This aggression then ultimately leads to rape, as well as very self-destructive behavior patterns such as drug abuse. (Which all to often only increases that aggression!)

    But hey, what do you care, right? You just had to shove your morals behind closed doors and prove some immaterial point!

  5. Dave, I don’t think it makes me holier than thou to not want to see whorehouses behind Dairy Queens.

    Would you be willing to agree that, should the city turn a blind eye to this type of business (they’re not going to legalize it anytime soon), that they should zone where businesses like this can operate? For example, I would imagine many people would have less problems with businesses like this if they operated in areas away from residential areas and schools.

    Does that sound reasonable?

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