City overturns bra ban at historic south side bar

CREATED May 16, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - A city inspector walked into a bar and, no joke, ordered it to take down the very things that make it unique.

That inspector targeted a collection of bras, the decor element that has defined the Holler House Tavern for 45 years.

"Either she had a bad day or she didn't like me," 87-year-old Marcy Skowronski said of the inspector who visited last month.

Female patrons feeling sufficiently inspired and inebriated remove their bras and hang them from the bar's ceiling.

A tradition started in the middle of the last century when Skowronski and her girlfriends reached a the required level of intoxication.

"Us ladies, we had enough to drink and started taking our bras off," she said, recalling the night this idea was hatched.

Over the decades, hundreds of bras were strung up around the bar of Skowronski's 105-year-old tavern.

The collection caused one city inspector to decide it had grown into a fire hazard.

For the life of her, Skowronski could not understand why this visit to the Holler House Tavern ended differently than the previous 44.

Though Skowronski was not done fighting, the bras were removed and piled up in a corner of the bar.

With the tavern in compliance, she turned to her alderman, Bob Donovan.

"This just doesn't sound right," Donovan said. "Where's the common sense?"

Donovan started making phone calls to the Department of Neighborhood Services, the city agency that issued the bra ban. He also alerted the media.

That combination resulted in the commissioner of neighborhood services personally reversing the order late Thursday and allowing the bras to stay.

"The pressure you guys may have put on, I want to thank you guys," Donovan said. "The media has a role to play in this society."

With the order overturned, Marcy Skowronski is in the throes of planning a party to re-adorn her bar with undergarments.

She expects the process will be fueled by a love of tradition and no small amount of alcohol.

"The girls say 'do you realize how much I paid for this bra' and after a couple of drinks, it's hanging," she laughed.