City backs off on bra ban for bar

MILWAUKEE — A historic Milwaukee bowling alley and bar almost went without the appropriate support after a city inspector decided dozens of bras hanging from its ceiling were a fire hazard.

Holler House owner Marcy Skowronski said she and some of her friends started the tradition 45 years ago, when they had a few drinks and threw their bras onto skis hanging from the bar’s ceiling.

They’ve amassed dozens of all sizes and colors over the years, even replacing old bras with new ones at the bar’s 100th anniversary five years ago. Many times people sign and date the bras or leave notes on them.

But an inspector that visited in April apparently wasn’t as accepting of the tradition. She said the bras were a fire hazard and Skowronski needed to take them down.

“They’ve been hanging there for 45 years,” Skowronski said Friday. “I had inspectors here for 45 years. Every year they come and nobody’s said anything.”

The 87-year-old great-grandmother, who has worked at the bar for 59 years, went to the city Tuesday to appeal but missed the deadline. So her son-in-law took the bras down for fear they would get a fine, which according to the official inspection order can run from $150 to $10,000 a day.

Taking the bras down made Skowronski even more frustrated. She called a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, hoping publicity would help, and her alderman, Bob Donovan. Donovan made some calls, and within a day the city backed down.

“Long story short, common sense prevailed and the city backed down,” Donovan said.

“We’re going to have a rehang the bras party over there and perhaps charge at the door,” he added. “And any money we are able to bring in, the proceeds will go to buying a little common sense for the Department of Neighborhood Services.”

Besides the bras, the bar started by Skowronski’s in-laws in 1908 is also known for its two downstairs bowling alleys, which are the oldest certified in America according to its sign.

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