Dumas Brothel Museum – Butte Montana

 

Outside Dumas Brothel

The building is still formidable. although the street is quiet

Lots of paranormal activity reported

The cribs in the basement

Nice skylights, lovely architecture

Nice skylights, lovely architecture

Door with window to attract customers

Door with window to attract customers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dumas Brothel Museum – Butte’s Painted Lady

It was dark inside, perhaps due to the cloudy weather outside. Maybe it was always dark. True, the electricity wasn’t working that day, which  added to the atmosphere. The sense within the building was one of weary sadness. I found it hard to imagine the excitement that men once must have felt upon crossing the threshold for a ‘good time.’ Perhaps  I was sensing the women’s jaded lives. Surprised that such feelings still lingered, I had instead expected to feel something else – like the heady allure of illicit activities and raucous laughter.

The inside of the building (built for purpose might I add) has a central hallway with rooms off of each side. Each room has a window that opens onto the hallway, where women tapped chopsticks on the glass to draw potential client’s interest. Shocking my sensibilities (and the legalities of the situation), the Dumas Brothel closed as a house of prostitution in 1982. Good heavens! At that point in time, the buildings would have appeared run down, battered and depressing – not to mention frightening when the day or evening grew quiet. Any glamor from the roaring 1890s seemed distant and remote on our visit. In fact, despite the sky lights and lovely architectural features, the building feels downtrodden, shabby and tired. It doesn’t feel deserted.

Understandably, paranormal investigations reportedly take place, which comes as no surprise. It sounds like some of the ghosts from the past simply don’t want to leave.

The current owners are restoring the building as a labor of love. Surely It is a large undertaking, and I encourage people to go for a visit to support their efforts. Let’s face it, most brothels are now gone, demolished with the criminalization of prostitution, or when the buildings required too many repairs. Probably women (the upstanding kind) were not too keen to memorialize such places. But brothels and cribs were a facet of life in mining camps and towns. It is fortunate that the Dumas is undergoing preservation and that it is open to the public.

Floor Plan:

The basement – cribs. Used by older ladies nearing the end of their career. Pitcher and basins.

Ground Floor – nice enough. For the women in the middle of their career. Sink in room.

Top floor – High class girls and the madam. Nice plumbing.

 

At least the working women had some protection within the building, although a lot of their stories must be sad.