Pre-Raids: The Clock Bar
The Clock Bar was opened in 1938 by George Dare. Once George Dare Sr. passed away, it was then run by his son Stuart and Stuart’s wife Maureen. The Clock Bar was the first known LGBTQ+ bar in Harrisburg, and the first iteration of LGBTQ+ bars at the 400 N 2nd Street building.
“It was called the clock bar because it had clocks on the wall set to different time zones around the world like Moscow, London and you know, that’s why it was called The Clock Bar.” – James Bortzfield Oral History
Bar etiquette at the time was dictated by the Liquor Laws that were in place. One law was the number of patrons in a bar had to match the number of seats in the bar.
“If you had a liquor license, you had to have a seat for every person in the bar, and if you only had 50 seats then you could only have 50 people because everybody had to have a place to sit down.” – Larry Wilson, 1960s Group Oral History
So how would patrons meet each other without losing their seats? If a patron wanted to “talk” to someone, they would send a drink to their intended interest and if the receiver gave a positive response, the sender would go over to talk while the bartender saved the sender’s seat. Bartenders, and other patrons, would keep tabs and hold seats for others when they would get up to talk to one another.
What you did then was you went through the third-party bartender and sent him a drink…somebody would get up, that’s your seat. Bartender knew that. People around you knew that. You could get up and be over there and you would do something, and someone would come over and say ‘that’s Larry’s seat’” – Frank Pizzoli, 1960s Group Oral History
Unfortunately, the Clock Bar was raided in 1965 which led to the closure of this iteration.
Raids of 1965
In July of 1965, County District Attorney LeRoy S. Zimmerman began a monthlong investigation into the State Street area and the Clock Bar to take legal action against the LGBTQ+ community for their “immoral and perverted” lifestyle. This investigation led to a series of raids and arrests, with a total of twenty-six LGBTQ+ community members being arrested. Names, ages, and addresses were made public, and charges ended in either fines and probation or jail time.
The raids came to a head on October 27 when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board revoked the liquor license of the Clock Bar under the charges of “maintaining a disorderly house and permitting the solicitations of patrons for immoral purposes.” The revocation led to the closure of the Clock Bar, and severely impacted the LGBTQ+ community of Harrisburg by limiting the number of spaces for socializing.
However, these raids did not stop the LGBTQ+ community from creating the spaces that they desired and needed.
After the devastating raids and closure of the Clock Bar, Stuart and his brother, George Jr., decided to re-opened the location in 1966 under a new name, The 400 Club.
“…it was plain and all done in red and black and over the bar, it had a long bar, there were Tiffany shades hanging down [over the lights]…” – Bob Kegris, 1960s Group Oral History
The Apple and the Frenchmen
When The 400 Club closed in 1974, the location came under new management, Al Apple and Chuck Clement.
“The Apple and the Frenchmen was a pair of lovers and the apple and the Frenchman described the two lovers, the couple, and they did offer a light menu fare or whatever at the bar, which had never been done before.” – Larry Wilson, 1960s Group Oral History
The Dandelion Tree
In 1975, only one year later, The Apple and the Frenchman closed, and the location came back under to the Dare Family. This time, the new bar was named The Dandelion Tree.
La Rose Rouge
In 1978, the location was sold again, this time to John Koch, who then opened the final iteration at this location, La Rose Rouge.
La Rose Rouge was one of the only two LGBTQ+ bars in Harrisburg at the time, the other being The Neptune Lounge, and stayed open until 1990 when the location stopped being a LGBTQ+ bar. As of 2020, the building is the location of the restaurant Burger Yum.