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The Dumas Brothel
|Location||45 East Mercury Street
|Part of||Butte-Anaconda Historic District (#66000438)|
The Dumas Brothel (formerly the Dumas Hotel) was a famous bordello in Butte, Montana in the United States. Located in the heart of uptown Butte, the brothel has been proclaimed America's longest-running house of prostitution.
The hotel was built in 1890 in a Victorian Brothel style and is thought to be the last example of that type of architecture known to exist in the United States. Its three stories feature skylights and several large parlor rooms, and the basement holds several "cribs", smaller rooms with just enough space for a bed.
The rear entrance of the hotel was in a small brick-lined alley off Wyoming Street known as Venus Alley, where many more "cribs" were located. Underground tunnels led to various other buildings in the town, allowing certain well-to-do patrons some privacy while conducting their "business".
The Dumas (pronounced doo-muhs) operated legally as such from 1890 until 1982 and was the largest, grandest and most widely known bordello among many located in Butte's thriving red-light district. The building is a contributing property to the Butte-Anaconda Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.
A vast wealth of copper and other metals was extracted from the Butte Hill, giving the town its appropriate and proud title, "The Richest Hill on Earth". The miners of Butte and others of all classes frequented both the saloons and brothels.
In its first half-century, 1890–1942, the Dumas used all 43 of its rooms. Since miners worked round the clock so, too, did the staff of the brothel; during busy times, weekends and paydays, the brothel ran three shifts of girls.
The prostitution business at the Dumas Brothel was officially shut down in 1982 for income tax violations, when the last Madame, Ms. Ruby Garrett, could no longer afford to pay taxes. In 1989 the building was purchased by Rudy Giecek, a local man interested in preserving the building and its history.
The building became a museum and for several years it was affiliated with the International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (ISWFACE). In 2005 the Dumas Brothel Museum was closed due to financial considerations surrounding much-needed structural repairs and other conservation costs.
In 2008 the Dumas Brothel reopened after a fund-raising effort.
On June 20, 2012, an announcement was added to the Dumas Brothel Web site in reference to a change of ownership: "Mr. Michael Piche and Mr. Travis Eskelsen, both Butte residents, have purchased the Dumas Brothel from Mr. Rudy Giecek with the foremost goal being the restoration of the building, which we have found to be in critical condition"
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Mary Murphy, "Women on the Line: Prostitution in Butte, Montana, 1878-1917" (Master's Thesis, University of North Carolina, 1982)
- "Montana - Properties". Visitmt.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "Threatened Places: Dumas Brothel". Butte CPR. 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- Johnson, Kirk (2005-05-30). "Butte Journal - Dark Days for a Reminder of the Wild, Wild West in Montana - NYTimes.com". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-06.