|2559 North Southport today|
Location: 2559 North Southport, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Opened/Closed: Mid to late 1970s
So far, all I'm finding are random references to Petunia's.
St. Sukie de la Croix's Gay Chicago Timeline for June 1978 mentions that Petunia's was a lesbian bar that was holding a cookout to benefit Gay and Lesbian Pride Week.
Two years earlier, in 1976, it was also reported that Petunia's was the "site of a benefit for the choir of Good Shepherd Parish, MCC. The funds raised will send Chicago's "voice" to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church's annual general conference in Washington D.C."
So it is clear that Petunia's was community-minded--like a lot of the old-time lesbian bars of that period.
In a Chicago Gay History interview/survey with Paula Walowitz, she identifies the following as a "defining moment" in her life:
Going to my first lesbian bar (Petunia’s circa 1976) with another bi-curious friend and just standing against the wall all night, trembling and watching women.
There is also this random memory from Out & Proud in Chicago:
I went to northeastern, I think in the summer of '79, there was four of us, four women. I don't know how we got onto it, but we began to think about gay stuff, and had heard about these lesbian bars. I remember walking in-- it was petunia's on southport-- and I couldn't believe how many there were, that I knew, from school.
'I'm sorry to say, I spent so much time in the bars, as far back as 1977, 1976 when I was in college … we used to come down to Chicago and we'd go to Petunia's, Marilynn's, Lost & Found, Augies, CK's. … [ There ] were a lot of women's bars at that time and that was the community. The stereotypes, the roles, the gender roles were much more defined. Then, women were either butch or femme. … Because I was younger I really didn't get involved in it too much and I wasn't a part of it but I certainly recognized it and saw it.'
(By the way, all of the other lesbian bars mentioned above have posts here at Lost Womyn's Space.)