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Hwy 12 & 18

Billboard for Club Hollywood on Highway 12 & 18 (12/8/48)

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-31025

Hollywood in Madison

In the 1890s there were three attractions on Lake Monona outside the city limits of Madison where passenger steam boats could take people: the Tonyawatha Hotel (located in the 4500 block of Winnequah Road until it burned down in 1895), Winnequah Point (a dance hall and picnic ground owned by Capt. Frank Barnes) and the Monona Lake Assembly Grounds (a Chautauqua site, now Olin Park). That was until the Askew Brothers built a dance hall and picnic grounds at Esther Beach in 1901. It was named for Charles Askew's daughter, Esther, who was born in 1883 and died in childhood. The Askews had been in the passenger boat business since 1872, first on Lake Mendota and then they transferred to Lake Monona in 1889. Charles Askew operated the four steam powered boats they owned, while his brother William took care of the boat dock called Angle Worm Station at the foot of S. Carroll Street which they had bought from Capt. Frank Barnes in 1893. Esther Beach was managed by a third brother, Samuel. The Askew brothers retired about 1920. Alva "Al" Thompson took over the business and built a new dance hall.

In the meantime, Ann and "Andy" (LeRoy) Anderson, a drummer with big bands in Chicago, and his sister and brother-in-law Jen and Rudy Reha, decided to open the Hollywood Inn, "Madison's most beautiful roadhouse on Highway 12 on the Yahara River near the Black Bridge" in 1925. At first it was a three-season dance hall, but in 1930 they built a new, winterized Club Hollywood. In 1934 they bought the Esther Beach summer dance hall nearby, renaming it Hollywood-at-the-Beach, running them seasonally in tandem.

In 1945 Sam J. Corona and Tony Salerno bought both properties and continued to run them as dance halls until about 1952.

In 1955 Mrs. Maxine E. Peterson bought the Club Hollywood building and converted it into a nursing home for 40 patients called Agehaven, located at 6406 Bridge Road.

The building was torn down in 1973 to make way for Metropolitan Mall, which was to be a neighborhood convenience shopping center. Since 1977 it has been an office building.

Ann Waidelich