The Sunset Lodge
Excerpt from the Boston Globe on 4/6/1989 by Susan Trausch titled The Woman who owns the Reds Sox keeps her private Life Private:
Tom Yawkey was brought up to be low-key about money in a pre-Donald Trump America. He was born in Detroit in 1903, and raised by an uncle after his father died. During the summers of his years at Yale he learned the family timber and mineral business by working in the field with lumberjacks and miners. He always carried with him a feeling for the working man.
He was known to give people jobs in Georgetown, help them out in tough times, and give to all charities. He and Jean would load a truck with toys on Christmas morning and play Santa Claus. They never had children of their own. They gave money to build a wing on the Georgetown Memorial Hospital. They built Tara Hall, a home for boys from troubled families. Tom willed more than 15,000 acres of land to the state to be used as preservation areas.
In the 1930s Tom Yawkey even financed a bordello for the town, setting up the Sunset Lodge, which became internationally famous.
“Go to Europe and say ‘Sunset Lodge’ and the person you’d be talking to would say ‘Georgetown, South Carolina,’ ” recalled one resident. Georgetown remembers the madam, Hazel Weiss, “Miss Hazel,” fondly as someone who “ran her girls with an iron hand, never let them come into town in shorts, didn’t allow drunks or rough characters in her place, and always paid her bills.” The town also remembers the Red Sox visiting there on the way to spring training. It was a different America then. Discreet. Nobody went on television with the play-by-play.
“This wasn’t a case of a millionaire setting up his girlfriend,” recalled one resident who asked not to be identified. “This was a well-run business, respected, if that’s the right word. It was a lot like the place in the play ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.’ “
Sunset Lodge was closed by the sheriff in 1969. Politics, they say, and they sound sorry. Miss Hazel is long dead. Who knows what Elise must have thought about the place or what Jean Yawkey thought. “I heard Tom Yawkey drove Jean there once and she was furious,” said one man. But he also said that Jean Yawkey was with her husband in whatever he did. Hard-drinking, known as “a man’s man,” tough, a racist by some lights, not the easiest guy to live with, but a person with the proverbial heart of gold. She understood all that.
Read Kimberly Duncan’s story about the Sunset Lodge.