If one uttered the phrase, “you get your degree at Marquette, but you get your education at the ‘Lanche” to a Marquette student today it would most likely to met with a puzzled look. Located on 1504 W. Wells Street, the Avalanche Bar, or the ‘Lanche, closed on April 24, 1997. But to Marquette alumni it was a fixture of the Marquette community as integral as any academic building.


  • A neon sign advertises the Avalanche Bar on West Wells Street 

Photograph of the Avalanche Bar, 4.5 series 13, 00101 file, Department of Special Collections and University Archives,
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.
    A neon sign advertises the Avalanche Bar on West Wells Street Photograph of the Avalanche Bar, 4.5 series 13, 00101 file, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.
  • Two men walk into the Avalanche Bar 

Photograph of the Avalanche Bar, 4.5 series 10, 00243 file, Department of Special Collections and University Archives,
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.
    Two men walk into the Avalanche Bar Photograph of the Avalanche Bar, 4.5 series 10, 00243 file, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.

Named after the football team, which dissolved in 1960, the bar moved into its location in 1946. Throughout its sixty years in business, the Avalanche’s neighbors ranged from a Laundry Mat, to restaurants, to a small grocery store. Student Michael Keating, class of 1997, described the bar as “kind of funky, kind of dirty, but also very fun and very cheap." The drink of choice for many was Red, White & Blue Beer. Cheap enough to purchase with “couch change" students would commonly smash their bottles against the wall. This tradition subsided as the notorious naked beer slide took its place. The time-honored, if somewhat dangerous, ritual ended in 1991 when a female student was caught by undercover Milwaukee police.

In an effort to revitalize the community after crime in the neighborhood had decreased enrollment, Marquette launched the redevelopment initiative known as Campus Circle. As part of this initiative, the Avalanche Bar was demolished in favor of on-campus housing (what is now Campus Town East Apartments). The decision to close the bar was a controversial one, especially among Marquette University students. Campus Circle cited “rowdy patrons and vandalism” as the reason behind the contentious decision. When the bar officially closed on April 24, 1997, it was a sad day for the many loyal patrons of the ‘Lanche. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, junior, Corie Simmons said, “it’s a tradition, it’s part of campus and it will be hard to see it go."

Molly Snyder, “Naked beer slide memories immortalize The Avalanche,” On Milwaukee, January 3, 2012, https://onmilwaukee.com/bars/articles/nakedbeerslides.html.
Joe Williams, “Closing time: Avalanche shuts its doors,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 2, 1997.
Jeff Engel and Christopher Placek, “Digging up Wells Street’s storied past,” Marquette Tribune, April 28, 2009.
Don Walker, “You can own a piece of the old ‘Lanche,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 23, 2013, http://archive.jsonline.com/news/you-can-own-a-piece-of-the-old-lanche-b9917886z1-208710681.html/?su...
Molly Snyder, “Naked beer slide memories immortalize The Avalanche,” On Milwaukee, January 3, 2012, https://onmilwaukee.com/bars/articles/nakedbeerslides.html.
Jennifer Zahn, “Our Greatest Tradition, Marquette Wire, December 7, 2012, https://marquettewire.org/9011/ae/latest-issue/our-greatest-tradition/.
Chistina Olencheck, “Former Home of the ‘Lanche, campus properties await fait,” Marquette Tribune, August 8, 1997.
Joe Williams, “Closing time: Avalanche shuts its doors,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 2, 1997.