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 Dumas Brothel has been infamously proclaimed America's longest running house of prostitution. In fact, The Dumas operated legally as such from 1890 all the way until 1982. The Dumas was the largest, grandest and perhaps best-known bordello among many located in Butte's previously thriving Red Light District.
To more fully understand The Dumas and its storied history, one must contemplate the unique history of Butte's mining industry. 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 those from other professions, frequented both the saloons and brothels after a hard day or night of work. The motto of "Work hard, live hard, and die hard" rang true in Butte, and the Dumas helped the men (and women!) of Butte live up to its motto. In its first half-century, 1890-1942, the Dumas used all 43 of its rooms. Miners worked 'round the clock and so, too, did the ladies of The Dumas Brothel. During busy times, weekends and paydays, the brothel ran three shifts of girls.
The house was built in 1890 in a Victorian Brothel style and is the last example of that type of architecture known to exist in the United States. Its three-stories feature skylights, 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 lead to various Butte buildings, allowing certain well-to-do patrons some privacy while conducting their "business".
In the early 1970's, the building was the first active bordello to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The prostitution business at The Dumas Brothel was officially shuttered in 1982 for income tax violations, when the last Madame, Ms. Ruby Garrett, could no longer afford income 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. Unfortunately, the building remains closed to the public and this historic gem continues to further deteriorate.
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