Porters and Waiters Club, 1947-1959

Anna Belle Weakley

The Porters and Waiters Club once stood at 127 25th Street. It was an important hotel and club in Ogden’s Black community because it was one of the few places they could gather. It was first a rooming house where railroad porters and waiters could stay between their shifts, but Billy Weakley and Frank Turner opened the club in 1912. Anna Belle joined the management team when she married Billy in 1947.

By World War II, the club could house over 100 men at the cost of $0.50 a night. Guests could play pool, pinball, and sometimes even gamble. They could also get beer and sandwiches during their stay. Anna Belle and Billy both served the community through the club. They often donated to churches, paid members’ medical bills, paid college tuition for students, and helped fund sports teams.

Joe McQueen came to Ogden in 1945 to play a two-week gig, but he never left. After the war, Joe suggested to Anna Belle that they turn the basement into a jazz club, and she agreed. The jazz club could hold 250 people and became a popular location for late night jam sessions when musicians had train layovers or gigs in Salt Lake City. Great musicians like Fats Domino, B.B. King, and Marvin Gaye played at the club, which was desegregated by 1951.

In 1954 the club was raided as part of the city’s crackdown on vice. Anna Belle was arrested for selling liquor, and a patron, Fisher Berry, was arrested for gambling. He was sentenced to one year in jail and fined $500. Ogden City targeted Anna Belle’s beer license, and she closed the club in 1959.

Billy died in 1966 and Anna Belle opened restaurants in the building. In 1969 a fire at Anne Belle’s restaurant destroyed everything. She moved to Salt Lake City to pursue her interests in social work and died in 2008. Joe McQueen continued to play with his jazz band until he was 100 years old. He passed away in 2019.

Joe McQueen