Cadillac Lounge

in Bars, Clubs, and Discos

The Cadillac Lounge opened at 2016 East 9th Street in 1946. Owned by Cleveland bar and restaurant entrepreneur Gloria Lenihan, the Cadillac Lounge was one of the first openly gay-friendly bars to operate in Cleveland. The Cadillac Lounge provided a relatively tolerant social space for gay men in Cleveland to socialize and congregate for nearly 27 years. Nestled within the Schofield Building (2016 E. 9th St.) in downtown Cleveland, the Cadillac Lounge contained a full 2-story bar and lounge that regularly hosted live musical entertainment. The bar, a “long, narrow room” lined with large mirrors, featured lavish wood paneling, velvet and leather booths, and a variety of large tropical murals painted by artist William C. Grauer. Unlike the few other gay-friendly bars in Cleveland throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the upscale and relatively lavish Cadillac Lounge was regularly praised by patrons as being “comparatively clean, well-lit, and well furnished.” Like its contemporaries, however, the Cadillac Lounge was a frequent target of Cleveland’s Board of Liquor Control and received numerous liquor-related citations throughout the 1950s.

During the daytime, the Cadillac Lounge catered primarily to (white, presumably straight) businessmen. In the evenings, however, the Cadillac was a haven for gay men seeking companionship and comradery. Lenihan’s tolerance toward her gay patrons was in part mediated by the many rules she established regarding patrons’ behavior, dress, and physical interaction. Lenihan implemented a strict “suit-and-tie” dress code as a prerequisite for entry, and patrons dressed inappropriately (or deemed potentially “troublesome”) risked being turned away. Once inside the bar, utilizing “coarse talk” or letting out “too loud a laugh” provided potential grounds for a patron’s removal from the premises. Lenihan enforced a “12-inch rule” that necessitated all gay male patrons minimum 12-inches of space between one another. Breaking this rule or engaging in physical contact or affection thus meant risking expulsion from the Cadillac. Despite the rules and restrictions imposed by Lenihan, the Cadillac Lounge provided a relatively welcoming and tolerant physical space that enabled gay men to meet and socialize together at time when doing so openly meant risking the possibility of arrest or homophobic violence under Ohio’s anti-gay laws.

After operating the bar in the Schofield Building for nearly 27 years, Gloria attempted to move the Cadillac Lounge into a secondary location on Prospect Avenue. After she was denied the liquor license necessary to relocate the bar, Lenihan opted to sell the bar and its contents. The Cadillac Lounge closed in 1970. Many of the Cadillac’s regulars subsequently moved on to Lenihan’s other gay-friendly establishment, the Pickwood Lounge.

Additional information coming soon.


  • “Cadillac Lounge.” In Guild Guide 1964. Washington: Guild Press Ltd., 1964. Page 64.
  • “Cadillac Lounge.” In International Guild Guide 1965. Washington: Guild Book Service, 1965. Page 77.
  • “Cadillac Nearly Ready.” Plain Dealer. September 8, 1946.
  • Codger. “The Cleveland Bar Scene – Thirty Years Ago.” High Gear. March 1977. Page 26.
  • “Done With Mirrors.” Plain Dealer. October 10, 1946.
  • Glaser, Chris. “Chapter 5: Gloria Lenihan.” Purple Armadillos: The Intellects, Entrepreneurs and Oddballs of Northeast Ohio’s LGBT Community in the 19th and 20th Centuries. June 25, 2010.
  • Kelsey, John. “The Cleveland Bar Scene in the 1940s.” In Lavender Culture. Ed. Karla Jay and Allen Young. New York: New York University Press, 1994.
  • Lawrence, Isabel. “A Turning Point: A Look Inside At One of Cleveland’s First and Most Influential Gay Bars.” WKYC. June 22, 2023.
  • Negron, Sidney. “Cadillac Lounge.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  • Negron, Sidney. “Gay Bars in Cleveland.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
2016 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44115

Tell us about Cadillac Lounge

Many of the locations documented on Queer Cleveland are not well-documented in the historical record. If you have additional information about Cadillac Lounge, please let us know by sharing a memory, correction, or suggestion using the comment form below.

Or send an email to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *