Saturday, August 20, 2011

Warrior Hotel

On the NW corner of Nebraska and 5th Streets in downtown Sioux City sits a beautiful Art Deco style building called the Warrior Hotel. At the moment it is empty, it has been since the mid 1970's. The building has an interesting history in Sioux City and has been through many owners.

Part of the buildings interesting history is from the mid 1950's. Near or at the end of McCarthyism there were a couple of children murdered in Sioux City. The murders were thought to have been committed by a sexual predator. The moral majority in Iowa, charged by the events of McCarthyism, passed laws stating if a person did things outside of the social norm, like listen to the Liberace Show, they could be charged with a sexual crime if suspected of such a thing, even if what ever crime they were thought to have committed did not have any sort of sexual behavior as part of it.

The event that occurred in the mid 1950's after the second child was found dead was police rounded up what they called the "usual suspects" that were thought to have been a part of Sioux City's almost "invisible" gay community, from a place called the Tom Tom Club, which was in the Warrior Hotel. The Tom Tom Club was thought to be an "unofficial" gay bar or club. These men were sent to the state mental institution at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. After the doctors there figured out there was nothing wrong with them they were released, but the damage to their reputations by the moral majority in Sioux City, Iowa had been done and even though they did not commit any crime a lot of them left Iowa, never to return.

The future of the Warrior Hotel is unknown and uncertain. At one time it was thought it would be turned into low rent apartments or even retirement apartments. For now this beautiful building stands empty.

Architect's Biography:
The architect of the Warrior Hotel was Alonzo H. Gentry. He was well known for designing hotels. Alonzo used different styles of architecture. Art deco, beaux-arts, renaissance revival, art moderne and chicago school. Born in Independence, Missouri about 1887 he has many buildings to his credit. The Harry S. Truman library in Independence, the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, the Truman Library along with several hotels, the Warrior Hotel included. Alonzo passed away in 1967.


1930 - Constructed as the Fontenelle Hotel.

1931 - Became known as the Warrior Hotel by the time it opened.

Mid 1930's - Eugene C. Eppley purchased the Warrior. It became part of the Eppley Hotel chain.

Mid 1950's - Police arrested about 20 gay men who frequented the Tom Tom Club, located in the Warrior Hotel because they were thought to be suspects in the murder of a child at the time.

1956 - Eppley Hotels sold the Warrior to the Sheraton Corporation of America, after which time it was called the Sheraton-Warrior.

Late 1960's - Sioux City contractors Joseph and Frank Audino purchased the hotel and renamed it the Aventino Motor Inn.

Mid 1970's - The Aventino Motor Inn closed and the building has been empty since.

1985 - The Warrior Hotel building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

December 1996 - The Sioux City City Council approved the demolition of the building.

1997 - A lawsuit filed to prevent the destruction of the warrior Hotel succeeds.

Web sites:
Emporis - Warrior Hotel
Nebraska St Walking Tour
Owners of Warrior Hotel dispute city claims

Oddball Iowa: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places

Trickle-down McCarthyism