March 26, 2019 at 2:54 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. gay club closed temporarily for code violations
Glorious Health Club, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo via Facebook)

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs earlier this month ordered the Glorious Health Club, which bills itself as a spa, art gallery and community center catering to gay men, to close its doors until it fixes what the city agency said were multiple violations of the city’s building code.

A DCRA spokesperson said inspectors with the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services notified DCRA of possible code violations at the club, located at 2120 West Virginia Ave., N.E., after they were called to the club to assist an unconscious customer who died at the club on March 5.

D.C. police and the city’s Medical Examiner’s office have ruled the death a suicide by hanging, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the incident.  

DCRA spokesperson Timothy Wilson said DRCA inspectors arrived at the club on March 13 and conducted an inspection that found 28 violations of the city’s building and fire code. He released a copy of the inspection report to the Washington Blade.

The report says three of the violations consist of a failure by the club to obtain a building permit for various renovation work in past years that required a permit, including ventilation duct work, electrical wiring, and construction of “dividing spaces” in the warehouse building where the Glorious Health Club is located.

Robert Siegel, the club’s owner, told the Blade the building was overdue for renovation and pointed to the club’s website, which says major improvements are in the works.

“We are closed because we are upgrading our facilities to make you happier for the hot summer events,” a message on the website says.

“We are renovating and improving 50% of our building,” the message says. “You will be getting much more. Keep informed by checking this website — really very sorry for your inconvenience,” the message says.

“One of our units on an emergency response entered the club and saw what they thought were potential code violations,” said Vito Maggiolo, a spokesperson for the Fire and EMS Department. “They in turn notified our Fire Prevention Division. The Fire Prevention Division sent an inspector out who indeed found some violations,” said Maggiolo.

According to Maggiolo, an official with the Fire Prevention Division notified DCRA and it was DCRA that sent in its own inspectors and made the decision to temporarily close the club until the violations were corrected.

The club’s website says the club expects to reopen by April 6. But an employee this week said that although the renovation work would be completed at that time it was uncertain whether DCRA inspectors could schedule a required re-inspection of the building to enable the club to open by that date.

The Glorious Health Club was founded in 1979 by Siegel, a gay activist, businessman and former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, at its first location on the unit block of O Street, S.E., according to a write-up on its Facebook page. Along with several other gay adult-oriented businesses on that block, the club was displaced around 2006 by construction on the site and surrounding land of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium. It later reopened at its current location on West Virginia Avenue, N.E.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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