Cleveland Depo Baths

in Bathhouses and Spas

The Cleveland Depo Baths, a gay men’s bathhouse, opened at 1946 St. Clair Avenue in 1976. The Cleveland Depo Baths, owned by Jim Orazem, were part of the national Club Baths Chain (founded in Cleveland by Jack Campbell). Following extensive renovations to the “reconverted brownstone building” housing the baths, the Cleveland Depo Baths opened with “thirty-three [private] rooms with single mattresses, a lounge with a TV and fireplace, a dormitory, exercise room, cedar sauna, steam room, and a coffee room featuring Tiger’s Milk.” The Depo Baths debuted a fenced-in “enclosed patio for relaxing and nude sunbathing” several months later. The Cleveland Depo Baths operated as a private membership club open to men 18+. The Cleveland Depo Baths regularly offered a variety of discounts, specials, and events throughout the week for members. Weekday specials, including “2-for-1 Buddy Nights” provided discounts on admission while “Under 21” and “Under 25” Free Admission specials served to attract younger gay clientele. Steep discounts on short-term midday locker or private room rentals were also available on weekdays as part of a recurring “Business Man’s Special.” Free X-Rated movies were shown on Monday, Wednesday, and Tuesday evenings. Breakfasts, brunches, and dinners were frequently advertised to patrons on Sundays (likely in line with the trend of bar-based Sunday brunches pioneered by the Vaults). Following several outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases in Cleveland’s gay bathhouses, the Depo Baths partnered with the Cleveland Department of Public Health to offer regularly scheduled “free and confidential tests for venereal disease” for bathhouse patrons in the late 1970s. The Cleveland Depo Baths closed sometime after 1979. Heaven, a gay club, later opened in the former Depo Baths space.


Additional information coming soon.

Resources

  • “A Bathhouse is More Than Sex.” Gay People’s Chronicle. September 10, 1999. Page 6.
  • Damron, Bob. “…And Doing Cleveland…” High Gear. October 1978. Page 7.
  • “Depo Baths Join Strip.” High Gear. June 1976. Page 4.
  • “It’s Heaven.” Action Magazine. February 1983. Page 25.
  • Nosek, John, and Leon Stevens. “Gay Community 1970s.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  • Ross, Aaron. “The Baths.” High Gear. November 1976. Page 16.
  • Schneck, Ken. LGBTQ Cleveland. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2018. Page 34.
  • “VD Control.” High Gear. August 1976. Page 16.
1946 St Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

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