Man’s Country, Chicago’s oldest gay bathhouse, closed its doors on New Year’s Eve after 44 years in business.
Watch a video from the Chicago Tribune, above, and one from WBEZ, below.
This private club has been open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Eve, according to owner Ron Ehemann. It has served as a backdrop to some of the enormous achievements and challenges faced by Chicago’s LGBTQ community over the decades.
The property on which Man’s Country sits at 5015 N. Clark St. is being sold. Ehemann said much of the complex will be demolished to make way for condominiums in a new building to be called The Renslow, a reference to Chuck Renslow, the LGBTQ businessman and gay rights pioneer who started the bathhouse in a former fraternal lodge. (Ehemann said one part of the complex will remain: Full Kit Gear at 5021 N. Clark St.)
To Owen Keehnen, a Chicago author and historian, the loss of Man’s Country is “a gay version of seeing the house you grew up in torn down. It was everything. A place of sexual liberation, social ease with being gay and community building.”