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Shaker's Cigar Bar - Milwaukee, Wi

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Building was built in about 1894.  Known as the John Paulu Building.   The building was built over one of the three original cemeteries in Wisconsin for non- indigenous people. It used to be the sprawling South Side Cemetery, which was located between Grove, Florida, Virgina, and First Ave. Most of the bodies were moved over to Forest Home Cemetery in the Lincoln Village neighborhood but there are some to believed to still be buried under the building. Construction started in 1894, during a smallpox epidemic in Milwaukee, and was completed a year later. 

From 1894 until 1905, it ran as one of Milwaukee’s dozens of cooperages, manufacturing beer barrels for Schlitz Brewery. In 1905 it was sold and used as an oil distribution company until 1922.   It was sold in 1905, and used as a distribution center. Sold again in 1922, the patina of coal dust and oil was kept on the front windows, the front door remained locked, and entry to the city's newest speakeasy was through the alleyway entrance.   That speakeasy was owned by Al and Frank Capone. Starting in 1924, they opened a soda bottling operation that served as a cover for the liquor being produced and consumed on site. There was also a brothel housed on the second and third floors. The back was a roaring speakeasy, often packed with upwards of 300 to 400 people a night.   To get into the speakeasy, one would have to go to the doorway in the back alley, perform a secret knock, and then say exactly the right words. “We’re here to inspect the soda bottles.” If they didn't say those magic words, they would often be beaten within an inch of their life, maybe even a little further. The bar sold bathtub gin, which was a blanket term for grain alcohol and anything you could find to dilute it, including turpentine and formaldehyde. 

The ABC Soda Company, located in the front of the building, was set up a "soda bottling line", which was used to bottle imported hooch. The St. Louis A.B.C. Brand was owned by the Frank and Al Capone who led the brewing syndicate out of Chicago. It was said that Mr. Capone’s “boys” damaged the brewery one night when it was heavily vandalized. The ABC Company eventually went out of business in 1940. (see 2nd page) The Brothel was on the 2nd and 3rd floors and operated until 1946The front was the ABC Soda Bottling Company, you can still find wooden crates at different garage sales in town, ABC Soda in Milwaukee 

In the Capone-era 1920s an Irish brothel girl by the name of Molly Harvey Brennan once plied her trade in the third floor penthouse. It is thought she was murdered in her penthouse on the third floor.   Molly came to 422 S. 2nd St. when she was 16-years-old, and quickly ascended the ranks due to her connections with a prominent and wealthy politician. When the girls working downstairs charged between $2 and $5 per appointment (and they would have about eight to ten appointments an hour), Molly demanded $25 just to walk up the stairs to her private floor. A torrid love affair with the son of her wealthy benefactor resulted in what employees suspect was her murder in 1929, at the hands of her lover.   In 2001, Bob and some of his friends were getting rid of an old shed on the back of the property. While they were tearing it down, they found a false floor, and underneath it was a sack of bones. Now, some of them were animal bones, but others were charred human remains. So they called the police. They took the remains to the medical examiner, and about a week later got the information that the bones had been there for over 70 years. They belonged to a woman. She was between 18 and 20 years old when she was killed. She had been murdered. Her body had been dismembered and then burned in a very hot fire, like in a fireplace. 

Because of the authentic period look and feel, Shaker's was used extensively as a location site for the Speakeasy and office scenes in the 1990's produced Warner Brothers movie "Dillinger." They are also frequently used by commercial photographers and advertising agencies as an authentic period location setting. 

Also on the 2nd floor there is a room that was specifically used for the abortions for the girls. 

Before the cemetery was founded, there was an apple orchard that belonged to a wealthy family in Walker’s Point (when Walker’s Point was one of three settlements that would later make up the City of Milwaukee).The family had one daughter, who employees believe was named Elizabeth. The story goes that Elizabeth, who was fond of climbing the apple trees, fell one day, breaking her neck. The spot where she died is believed to be where the women’s room lounge is now. Her ghost is not reported to be menacing in nature, but playful, often trying to get the attention of the women in the stalls, by gentle knocks or raps, sometimes leaving the water running for employees to find the next morning. 

There is a safe that sits in the basement. It’s been dated to the pre-Civil War era, and although Bob has brought in professional safe-crackers, both from the federal and criminal level, none have been able to get it open, leaving its contents a mystery. It tends to move from place to place without anyone's help. 

In the basement, at one point they did GPR on the floor and it is said there are three bodies buried in the one corner where the old entrance use to be that the mob used. There is also an original cistern in the basement as well still open.