Last Call at Maud’s
a.k.a. Maud’s Study
Maud’s was a well-known community center for lesbians in San Francisco throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It first opened at 937 Cole Street in 1966; it embodied the free spirited nature of the Haight Ashbury counterculture.
According to the 1993 documentary, Last Call at Maud’s, the bar “came to enjoy an international reputation as the quintessential meeting place for non-conformist women and their friends.”
In the film, Maud’s owner, Rikki Striecher, “fondly recounts her introduction to women’s bars during their World War II urban heyday. Her candid stories and vintage photos of this secret sorority reveal a long-hidden side of female culture.”
The documentary also features lesbian pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the world’s first international lesbian organization. In the film they, “describe how a climate of fear permeated their 1950s and early 1960s underground world. They bring us back to a pre-Stonewall reality, when gay bar raids were a frequent pastime of police across the country.”
Maud’s was a member of the Tavern Guild before its dissolution in 1995. The bar originally had thick layers of ivy covering its window, a natural solution to protect its patrons against the SFPD’s enforcement of laws against dancing and touching amongst members of the same sex in bars and public spaces. The interior featured a taxidermy deer with snazzy earrings, the unofficial mascot of the bar that appears in some of the bar’s merch and ephemera.
Because of Striecher’s extracurricular interest in sports, Maud’s was also a central gathering spot for participants in various women’s sports leagues, including softball, pool, and bowling, amongst others. Streicher helped to organize the Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982, and Maud’s hosted a champagne reception for participating women athletes. She later went on to cofound the Gay Games Federation. There is a sports field in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco that bears Striecher’s name, and she is recognized with a plaque in the Rainbow Honor Walk.
Striecher also owned Amelia’s, a lesbian bar that was a part of the Valencia Corridor in the 1970s and 80s; she also owned and operated Rikkers Liquors on Market Street before passing away in 1994; the store closed in 2016.
Some blame Maud’s downfall on a nation-wide educational campaign about the dangers of alcohol; many women chose to get sober during this time. The bar is now known as Finnegan’s Wake—the only remnant of its glorious lesbian past is a tiny piece of the bar rail that is now hung at the end of Finnegan’s near the patio that reads, “It was the best of times—it was the worst of times. It was our time.”
*Images from Maud’s Reunion FB Page.
1) Maud’s Reunion FB Page—Gathering place for old patrons of the bar; lots of great old photos and ephemera from its history.
2) About Maud’s—A brief history from the Last Call at Maud’s documentary film website, with some photos.