The Hollenden Hotel anchored one end of Bullock’s block and the Penney saloon, one of Cleveland’s most popular night spots, stood near the other. When Frank Penney opened his business on Superior in 1903, newspapers gushed: “The entire place is finished in mahogany, Did William Bullock frequent Penney’s, the Hollenden, vaudeville shows, or nearby brothels?marble tile, and stucco. . . . The Entrance and Lobby are very handsome. . . . The bar is . . . artisitic in conception. . . .” Leather chairs and divans furnished a rear smoking room. A “large, light” dining room, open only to “gentlemen,” served lobster, steak, fish and game. Unlike C B Lake’s saloon near the trainyard in Collinwood, Penney’s was “among the finest in the city.”
Penney, a notorious man about town, took bets illegally, raced horses, followed boxing closely, supported Republicans in Cleveland’s rough politics, and frequented brothels. Police arrested him several times and fined him repeatedly. In 1891, Penney, with three others, nearly beat to death a man who had grown too rowdy in his bar. In 1912, the city’s Baptist brotherhood provided evidence leading to his arrest for serving liquor on a Sunday. Penney beat the charges.Sleigh Racing in Euclid Ave. Speedway, c1909. CSU. In Winter, wealthy men like Frank Penney raced their thoroughbreds, putting status, pride, and money on the line. Crowds watched from the sidewalk. Running race horses at full speed down icy streets had risks for everyone, which must have been part of the thrill. He was fined for having gaming machines on his premises and was accused of fixing a horse race. He groomed and traded thoroughbreds and raced with wreckless passion. In February of 1908, while racing horse drawn sleighs through the snow on Euclid Avenue, he and another driver crashed, “demolishing” Penney’s sleigh and throwing him into the road, though apparently he broke no bones. Perhaps more than any Clevelander, and certainly with a high degree of visibility, Penney lived the “sporting” life of a privileged man at the turn of the twentieth century. He also shows us just how rowdy that life, and his Superior Avenue neighborhood, could be. On Saturday nights in 1906 and 1907, the police stationed James Mangan, an especially large and powerful patrolman, at the corner nearest Penney’s saloon to subdue “plain and fancy hooligans . . . bent on rough horseplay.”
Did William Bullock frequent Penney’s, the Hollenden, vaudeville shows, or nearby brothels? Did he watch the World Series scoreboard on the Leader building, or eat in quick lunch restaurants?Interior of Chapin & Gore Saloon, c1904. CHM. We have found no interior photos of Penney’s saloon. This shot of Chapin & Gore’s upscale business in Chicago gives some idea of what Penney aspired to. We know his movie theater was one among many amusements in the district, that he sought, at least to this extent, to make himself part of its culture and nightlife. Bullock would have had nothing like the financial resources of the swashbuckling Frank Penney, but Penney’s and other downtown saloons catered to young, white men making their way in the growing city. An entrepreneur and showman who played films of boxing matches and scenes from the Collinwood fire, Bullock left behind no convincing signs of prudishness. Very much like Penney, Bullock seems to have seen himself as a man on the make, sophisticated, modern, uninhibited in his appetites. Surviving documents, though, don’t tell us if Bullock indulged freely in the amusements of his neighborhood—lobster dinners, drinks at the Hollenden, Vaudeville at the Colonial, sex at the brothels. They only suggest that Bullock lived fully in the consumer culture that surrounded him, a culture that would have expected him to enjoy the pleasures of a man about town.