Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Speakeasys, Opium Dens, and Brothels Part 3

The middle of the Pendleton underground tour actually took us up two flights of stairs to the second floor of a building that had been in the same family for years. After the brothels were run out of town, the daughter of the original building owner had the second floor boarded up. She didn't want anyone to know they had that profession working in their building.

At one time one full block on both sides of  Emigrant Street had 18 brothels on their second floors.When the cowboys were in town, girls would hang out the windows waving to the lonely cowboys as they roamed the street. Many of the brothel's were set up and called boarding houses, but it was pretty clear what really went on in the boarding houses.

The one on the tour was last run by Stella Darby before it was boarded up. And because it was boarded up a lot of the furniture and items in the rooms were there when they pulled down the boards and persuaded the woman who owned the building to allow the historical society to give tours.

One of the bedrooms
Stella took in young women who had no where else to go. They did work as prostitutes, but she also taught them domestic chores and most girls worked there in hopes of finding a husband. There was a room with an organ that allowed the girls to have church on Sunday with a traveling minister. The prostitutes weren't allowed in the regular churches but Stella gave them the opportunity to attend the small "chapel" which any other day but Sunday was  where the clients waited their turn.

Stella also had a doctor come regularly to make sure the girls were healthy.
Girl's Claw foot tub

The girls had their own bedrooms and one they used for "business". They had a pretty claw foot tub in a communal lavatory for their use.

Where the men "cleaned up"
Down the hall was a small room with a table, pitcher and bowl, soap, and a razor.This was the Gent's Toilet where "customers" went to make sure they were clean before visiting a girl.

In Stella's bedroom there is a secret passage that leads out of her bedroom and into the room of their one tenant who was an artist and their "bouncer".  If there was a prominent local man visiting during a raid they could hide him in the passage until the room had been searched then let him out and down the stairs before anyone saw him.

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