All posts by Paul Kayle

Does Winona’s Brothel History Control the Housing Laws Today?


Winona was known as the wettest city in Minnesota during the prohibition, and had a red light district that was talked about around the country. Winona has a rich history for its size. The town of 25,000 was a booming lumber town nestled between the railroad tracks and the Mississippi River making it a central hub of travel.

The town was a brothel town since the late 1800s according to the archives in the Winona History Museum. The town endured 60 years of lawless attitudes and actions before bringing it to an end in 1942.


Most of the brothels are torn down. Here is what currently resides in some of their old spots.
Most of the brothels are torn down. Here is what currently resides in some of their old spots.

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Second Street in Winona is where most of the brothels sat, there was a string of five or six houses where women stood outside and whistle at men or knock at them through the windows and try to lure them in, according to the Winona History Museum Archives.

Police officers and the mayor usually acted like the houses didn’t exist, one source in the WHMA said. The worst fines imposed on the women and owners were 50-100 dollars. This meant women could go right back to their work. They had money to cover the fines, and the police officers knew that according to the WHMA.

Winona’s current mayor, Mark Peterson, works at the Winona History Museum and is fascinated by the history of Winona.

“Most of the citizens really didn’t mind that the red light district was here, they just looked at it as part of Winona,” Said Peterson

There was a doctor in town that would check the women monthly for any diseases, and they women were actually a great deal of help money wise through the Great Depression, said Peterson.

“The women were great tippers at local shops and resteruants, which helped out a lot of people when they needed the money,” Said Peterson.

After the final raid in 1942 the houses were padlocked for a year.

All the buildings now are either gone or have become, bars or houses that families live in.

Today Winona has strict housing laws like the 30 percent rule, and how many people can live in a house due to licensing.

The 30 percent rule states that no city block can be comprised of more than 30 percent rental houses.

Another law states that only five people that are non-related can live in a single-family house.

Over the years, this law has been commonly referred to as the brothel law.

This law is well-known among the college community, especially women.

The mayor about this he had no recollection of this law.

He figured college students had misunderstood the law and it snowballed from there.

Winona’s history is a wild one, and the red light district of Second Street is a thing of the past. Law officials now fight prostitution online. The numbers aren’t as high as they were in the 1920s. Winona Police today are stilling catching people that are still breaking this law.



Local Kwik Trips Lack Easy Access for all Customers

It’s five in the evening and it feels like everyone on the planet is trying to get into Kwik Trip. People brush up against you as they push their way through the doors. It’s a mission just to get into the building. As you roll your wheelchair close to the doors you realize there is not a button to power open the door. At this point getting into the building depends on the kindness of people to open the door.

Kwik Trip has seven locations in Winona area and not a single one has a handicap accessible door.


Front of a local Winona Kwik Trip.
Front of a local Winona Kwik Trip.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act hinged doorways need to be at least 32 inches wide. Even though automatic doors create greater accessibility they are not required by the ADA.

“Kwik Trip has made quite a few changes to make their gas stations more handicap accessible,” said Amy Schmidt, who works at a local Kwik Trip.

They have handicap parking, wide shopping aisles and customers can even flash their car lights from the pumps to receive assistance pumping gas, Schmidt explained. Kwik Trip has one handicap parking spot in most of their parking lots.

Schmidt was unsure as to why Kwik Trip hadn’t added the buttons to their doors.

Kwik Trip corporate offices were unable to set up an interview for this story.

As miniscule as this issue may seem some Winona citizens see this as a huge issue that should be addressed.

Jayda Garrison is a program director for Cardinal, a local group home, she said Kwik Trip should have handicap accessible doors.

“When handicap people struggle with these doors it takes away a sense of their pride and independence,” said Garrison.

Garrison explained more people within the Winona community should see this issue as a concern. She explained handicap individuals have the right to feel fully functional just like everyone else.

When looking at this situation money could come in as a factor.

According to a worker at Tom’s Lock in downtown Winona, many factor play into the installation of handicap buttons on building doors. A rough total estimate is 2,700 dollars per button.

With no response from the company it is hard to say why they haven’t added these buttons. They follow all other ADA regulations. The concerned Winona citizens hope that one day soon Kwik Trip will take that extra step.

Jayda Garrison, house supervisor at a local group home, talks about why it’s crucial for Kwik Trip to have handicap doors.

Winona State University Students Create an Anti-Bullying Campaign


Tammy Swenson-Lepper talks about bullying on Winona State University’s campus and what the University is doing to end it.



Bullying isn’t the toughest kid on the playground scenario anymore. With all the advances in technology things like cyber-bullying have become a problem in younger generations.

Cyber-bullying gives people the option to tear someone down via the Internet. This type of bullying can be seen in social media outlets and chat rooms, and has become a fast-growing issue.

According to John Otis, a member of the Project Positivity campaign, said after conducting research the group found bullying has mental and physical health issues. A few of these are: anxiety, depression, anorexia and bulimia.

Kids can now say rude things to someone without having to look at their face.

In a sense this makes bullying easier. Kids can say things to another and never give it a second thought because they never have to see that person again, said Otis.

In the past year cyber-bullying and bullying in general has been an issue at Winona State University. From nude photos leaked to rude comments on peoples’ Facebook photos.

“Sometimes the University cant do a whole lot because these issues are done over the Internet,” said Otis.

This is where Project Positivity helps. Project Positivity is a campaign put on by a group of students for their communications studies class. Otis is the person in charge of their social media. The campaign is geared towards ending all forms of bullying on Winona’s campus and among its student population.

Tammy Swenson-Lepper, the professor teaching the communication class, said the campaign is taking a new approach to health issues and is different from campaigns she has seen in the past.

Swenson-Lepper has had meetings with the university’s anti-bullying task force and asked them what they thought her students could do to help. Once her students were inspired to create this campaign by the bullying from last fall.

Swenson-Lepper described things the university is doing to do their part in the fight against bullying on campus.

She explained in addition to the anti-bullying task force WSU is working with incoming freshmen about bullying.

“I think that the school is doing a lot to help with this issue compared to other schools that have has bad cases of bullying,” said Swenson-Lepper.

Swenson-Lepper said that usually schools just punish the kids that are doing the bullying, but WSU is taking it further by creating the anti-bullying task force. The task force consists of students, faculty, and staff that want to end bullying at WSU.

The WSU students in class created a Facebook page for the campaign. On the page they encourage students to share things that make them happy and things they are doing for one another. At the end of the post students can tag the campaign, and at the end of the week certain posts win prizes.

The group of students also created an ad-like video against bullying that made it’s way around campus.

According to Otis, the group is also working with orientation leaders and classes to reach incoming freshmen since most of the incidents last fall involved freshmen.

Otis explained when coming up with the campaign idea the group wanted to look at an area of health wellness that isn’t always in the spotlight.

They also wanted a more positive vibe on campus. They thought a campaign against bullying was the perfect fit for both areas.

“We all understand that students can get stressed out and start feeling negative, said Otis, we aren’t our campaign to help work against that.”

The campaign will run until May 1. Otis said they already have had 500 posts since launching their Facebook page and hope the steady involvement continues.

John Otis a member of the Project Positivity Campaign talks about why he and his group started the project in the first place.