Million Dollar Ballroom

A death at the Eagles Club

The Eagles Club 50 x 75-foot swimming pool, as it appeared shortly after the building opened in 1927. A popular music venue today, the Milwaukee Eagles Club originally combined social and athletic facilities.

The Milwaukee Eagles Club included facilities for both social and athletic functions. Its 50 x 75-foot swimming pool featured innovative “submarine lighting effects” using multi-colored underwater lights.

On the afternoon of Sept. 10, 1927, Francis Wren, age 15, dived into the swimming pool at the Milwaukee Eagles Club. More than 40 people were in the pool at the time, most of them classmates from West Division High School. No one noticed when Francis failed to resurface.

Minutes later another diver bumped into Francis’ body floating near the bottom of the pool’s 9 1/2-foot deep end. Firefighters responded and performed artificial respiration for more than a half-hour but could not revive the boy.

It was initially speculated he died as a result of a heart attack but an autopsy determined drowning to have been the cause of death. There was no sign of heart disease.

No one has ever explained how an athletic young man, known to be an expert swimmer and diver, could have drowned, unnoticed, in a pool filled with other swimmers. His death has remained a mystery for 87 years.