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The Dumas Brothel Bed & Breakfast –
Haunted Place: The Dumas Brothel Bed & Breakfast
45 East Mercury Street
Dumas Brothel web site
The Dumas Brothel Bed and Breakfast is located in an area that was once the heart of Butte, Montana's historic "Red Light District".
The Dumas Brothel is a two story, Victorian brick building, with 4 large windows in the front, framing the doorway, with lovely, copper dentils along the roof line. This handsome building has a long, notorious reputation as a house that sold sensual pleasure to the common miner and the well-to-do as well.
It was built to be a three level brothel; a structure that was well designed to get the most out of the space to promote the sex-for-pay business; a real money maker at this time, due to the booming mining industry. The main floor has larger rooms and parlors connected by massive pocket doors, which could be opened to create large parlors for parties, but closed up again to regain the individual rooms. There were large windows along the main hallway, where the choices of different women were on display, for a man to choose from, to have his sexual urges satisfied.
Known as a "Parlor House," it opened its doors for 'business", in 1890, and was a working brothel for 92 years; long past the time when prostitution was thought to be legal. It was the longest working brothel to be open in the United States. It was built and run by Canadian entrepreneurs, a pair of brothers; Joseph and Arthur Nadeau. The Dumas Brothel was such a money maker that they went from being landlords to capitalists to real estate owners, profiting enough to buy other buildings.
The upstairs;(2nd floor) has several large rooms & suites and a large open balcony with skylights. This area was for the people with money, who wanted to fulfill their sensual desires with a beautiful, well dressed prostitute, in a private, comfortable room, that included the bells and whistles of the privileged. Politicians and wealthy businessmen enjoyed sex with these beautiful, stunning young women, who they had picked beforehand. These well-appointed ladies would sit in one of the parlor rooms, waiting to be chosen for their next intimate encounter.
From 1890-1942, the basement area was reserved to meet the sexual desires of the common man; the miner. Dumas Brothel had an ample basement, where miners with less money went to enjoy sex with the "not so pretty", and "older" prostitutes, each of which worked out of a tiny cubicle, just big enough for a bed, called a crib.
There were 43 cribs, that were operational around-the-clock, using three shifts of women to cover the demand during the busy weekends, and on pay day. As the miners were assigned one of three shifts at the mines, it was just good business to be open 24 hours a day. Originally, a stairway led downstairs from the front side walk. There was a door in the basement, leading to the underground tunnels that ran under the city of Butte as well. Through this door, men could enter and enjoy some sex with a woman, without being seen by anyone. These underground tunnels ran to other brothels and even to city hall it is said.
While the women involved were only allowed to keep 40 percent of their earnings, some of them received many handsome tips from their grateful clients, allowing them to dress in fine clothes, and look just like an acceptable lady. One such lady was a French prostitute, Sandra, probably brought in illegally from Canada by the Nadeau brothers. She was a small woman, but was very popular with the men, because she knew a lot of techniques that were so satisfying to her customers. Sandra made a good living here until she turned 61, when she retired.
The authorities eventually caught on that she was here illegally, but before they came to the Dumas Brothel to look for her, they would call, to warn the politicians to get out. Sandra would hide in a specially made refrigerator, and was never caught.
By 1913, business was booming in the Red Light District, located along Mercury and Galena Streets, east of Main and West of Arizona streets. A one story cheap addition was added on to the back of the building. This addition had 8 tiny rooms; cribs. 4 of them opened up directly to the notorious "Venus Alley", popular for miners who liked to walk down and shop for a girl for the night from the Dumas Brothel, and other brothels who all had back door cribs behind their buildings, sort of like a mall. Each prostitute would stand in the doorway of their crib, trying to persuade their potential customers to come in and "HAVE A GOOD TIME."
By 1922, the wealth of the Nadeau brothers had grown to the point that they formed the Nadeau Investment Company, and bought several structures in the Red Light District. One of these was The Copper Block, that once stood on the corner of Galena and Wyoming. Described as being a large structure made of bricks, this building was home to a large saloon on the first floor, and provided places for their prostitutes to live in while not working, on the second floor. They got some of their money back from the 40 percent of trick fees that was earned by their girls through the rent received. Other area prostitutes who worked at other establishments, as well as others with "questionable reputations" lived there as well.
However, in 1942, the federal government shut down all the open, public houses of ill repute in the United States, to protect their war effort, and the brothels had to change how they operated. The boom from the Butte vice industry was curtailed sharply at many of the once open brothel establishments. The under ground passages were closed, and all that remained of the popular Venus Alley was the red bricks of the original alley.
Besides having to knock down the cheap addition in the back of The Dumas Brothel, the cribs in the basement were sealed as well, with everything left behind by the women, still there; creating a time capsule. However, the first and second floors & rooms were still discreetly open for business, and "the action" simply moved upstairs, becoming more hidden from prying eyes; making it hard for the law to prosecute them, if they wanted to so.
Clients of the brothel, now called The Dumas Hotel, would come to the front door, and after being studied through a door hole, they would be led inside to a parlor, where a few available women would be seated, waiting to be chosen. However, there was no more window shopping, much to the disappointment of the clients.
Various owners managed to make a living at The Dumas Hotel, because of the sexual needs of all the single miners who were still working at the mines.
In 1971, The Dumas Brothel was bought by a woman with both a heart and a head for business, Ruth Garret. She considered herself to be a landlady, and took care of her girls, standing up for them. She made sure that her employees were safe, and were not abused by the men. She had suffered from an abusive marriage herself, and had shot her husband, in 1959, after receiving a terrible beating from him. She was found guilty of manslaughter, and served 9 months in jail, out of a 4 year sentence.
Despite the dwindling work from mining, Ruth Garret managed to keep the brothel at the Dumas Hotel going. While many of the old buildings in the former Red Light District were torn down, The Dumas Brothel Hotel kept holding on, until 1982, when she ran a fowl of the Federal I.R.S. and was sent to prison for 6 months for tax evasion. While this put a huge dent in her business, the actual nail in the coffin that ended The Dumas Hotel as a working brothel was the robbery of her Dumas Hotel, also in 1982. Butte-Silver Bow sheriff finally did shut her down for good, but she didn't hold a grudge.
Unable to reopen her brothel, Ruth was going to be content to loose it to the back taxes. But, in 1990, she was able to sell the building to a pair of Butte antique dealers, Ruby and Jason Giecek, on the condition that they would open it as a museum, and restore it to its historical prime. In the process of restoration, they opened up the sealed basement and cribs, discovering a time capsule, showing what life was like in a brothel. One of the parlors became a retail store for their antiques. But, they did open up the Dumas Brothel Hotel as a museum, that they ran for 20 years!!! They did their best to stabilize and make the restorations to this now woeful fixer upper opportunity that they could afford, keeping this old Gal a float and standing awhile longer.
In June of 2012, Travis Eskelsen and Michael Piche bought this continuous, fixer-upper opportunity, still in need of a boatload of money to not only pay the back taxes owed, but to fund the serious restoration and the preservation of a building so important in the history of Butte. Their dream is to open up their own b and b; Dumas Brothel Bed and Breakfast.
By February of 2013, they had paid all the delinquent taxes on this property, and are now busy repairing, restoring and renovating the former Dumas Brothel Hotel Museum into a guest-pleasing bed and breakfast, to open as The Historic Dumas Brothel Bed and Breakfast.
Uh oh. The spirits are restless, or perhaps cordial but concerned.
Some of the spirits attached to this historical building have noticed their efforts, and have tried to be noticed, for various reasons. Some may be supportive, others may have concerns about the changes that are coming, and one was ashamed and worried that the new owners would judge her for what she had done to herself, perhaps an accident, to cause her own demise.
HISTORY of Manifestations:
Renovating a structure to become something else than what it originally was used for, causing big changes, can trigger paranormal activity.
( New Hope Art Center * Jail House Inn in Newport * General Wayne Inn * Brewery Arts Center )
No matter how well the sex workers were treated, it wasn't a happy life, living and working in the oldest profession in most cases; in a brothel. In fact, it could also be dangerous to the woman's health; Unwanted pregnancy; complications of an opium-induced abortion, venereal disease, or even being murdered by a jealous client or boyfriend. Entities that die unexpectedly on the job, sometimes continue in their profession, not letting death get in the way.
( Miss Molly's B and B * White Eagle Pub and Hotel * O'Henry's Roadhouse building * The Slippery Noodle Inn * The Wyoming Territorial Prison – Story of Julius Greenwelch )
While the 2nd floor women enjoyed a higher class of clientele, odds are that the women who worked in the basement may have run into a few bad apples, with anger management issues.
The remains of a blood-stained hand print can still be seen on an inner wall of a crib room, that also had a badly damaged door jam; suggesting a violent entrance was made by someone. This was discovered when the basement crib rooms were unsealed, by Ruby and Jason Giecek. It is very possible that a prostitute was killed in her crib where she worked by a crazy client, a family member, an irate brothel collections supervisor or jealous boyfriend.
Prostitution was hard on the heart as well. These "soiled doves" were trapped in this lowest of society's occupations, unless one of their clients fell in love with them enough to marry them, despite their sordid past. They often didn't find the peace and relief from grief or disappointment on the other side, and remain restless in this world, still feeling shame for what they did to themselves, or what was done to them because of choices they made in their life.
Many prostitutes killed themselves, if they hadn't found a husband by 30.
Other prostitutes killed themselves as well when the husband-to-be chickened out, or died before doing so.
Some may have accidentally killed themselves, trying to medicate their emotional pain away. At this time, medication wasn't regulated by any agency.
( The Birdcage Theatre * Copper Queen Hotel * Skirvin Hotel-young prostitute )
Madame Elenore Knott of the Dumas Hotel – 1955
She fell in love with a married businessman, in 1955. They planned to run away together. The morning that they were supposed to run away, he lost his nerve, changed his mind, and never came to pick her up. Elenore was devastated, lost hope of ever leaving her situation, and killed herself.
A young prostitute, Sarah, worked at the Dumas Brothel, during 1917.
She and her client/beloved, a miner named James, made plans to get married. James sent her a love letter, that was on display in Sarah's old crib. The day after she received the letter, James was killed in a mine explosion. Sarah fell to pieces, and either accidentally overdosed on or deliberately killed herself probably with the favorite opium based drug, used by the women to medicate themselves or cause abortions, etc.
After People die, they sometimes choose to visit/reside places that brought them much joy and pleasure in this world.
( Saint James Hotel * Natatorium * Piper Opera House * The Birdcage Theatre *
Crystal Ballroom )
Male entities of miners seem to like to relive their special recreation time with their favorite lady in the basement.
The French prostitute, Sandra:
It seems that she was good enough to be a hands-on sex therapist, and made a career out of her work, finding personal fulfillment, in pleasing so many of her customers. Sandra was very popular with both miners and the well-to-do, retiring at Sixty One! She was a caring, loving woman who saw a purpose in her work.
General Activity reported:
When owner Jason Giecek walked into the structure, he saw smoky mists, and heard disembodied voices in the first floor areas.
On a tour, a latched door unlatched itself, in front of a group of witnesses.
People have experienced the strong aroma of cigar smoke, especially on the first floor.
The Entity of Sandra – Gifted French Prostitute:
People have been tenderly touched, and their hands have been held by a small unseen hand of a friendly woman entity.
The Entity of Madame Elenore Knott:
Starting right after she died, the prostitutes and staff of the brothel saw her apparition walking the hallways, carrying her suitcase.
Many clear pictures of the entity of Elenore have been taken of her throughout the years.
She also seems to be a strong protective spirit of the building, who encourages and leads the others as well.
When Ruby and Jason Giecek were the owners, The Dumas Brothel Museum was broken into by three youth. First of all, they grabbed some stuff from the antique /photo shop in one of the first floor parlors. When they started up the staircase to the second floor, they were stopped in their tracks, by an avalanche of flying china dishes. The frightened thieves did an about face and made a hasty retreat out the back door. Elenore probably led the other spirits in the dish throwing effort!
After the 2013 renovations began, the joint began to jump with paranormal activity, becoming more active than when Ruby and Jason Giecek owned the place.
Noisy activity was unmistakable, coming from the basement area; perhaps sounds heard in a brothel.
The Entity of Sarah:
She became very active after the new owners began their massive renovation, starting in the basement. She was possibly upset, along with the other spirits in this building with these new people in their house, and at the work being done; messing with the cribs, scrutinizing the personal objects.
Something in her belongings that was unsealed twenty years ago, now acted like an environmental trigger, causing her to be more restless than the others; perhaps ashamed. Sarah's paranormal activity experienced by the new owners, Travis Eskelsen and Michael Piche scared the pants off of them; not used to the paranormal at all. Travis Eskelsen and Michael Piche asked the investigation team from "Haunted Collectors" to come in and see what was causing this spirit's unhappiness; and perhaps uncover what this entity wanted.
Male Entities in the Basement:
One male entity was caught on a photo, by an investigator, wearing miner outfit, including a bandana.
Near the basement door that led to the tunnels that ran through the Red Light District, another photo by an investigator caught two apparitions; a male entity with a female entity.
The male entity is standing on the right, looking down at the female, with a large hair style or wearing a hat.
Female Entity(ies) in the Basement - Apparently still turning tricks.
Perhaps one of the women is the one that may have died here. Perhaps there is only one female entity;the one caught on film standing to the man mentioned above.
2 EVPs of a female entity were caught in the basement, agreeing with an unflattering quip said by an investigator about politicians.
Many personal experiences with the spirits in the building have been reported by witnesses for a very long time. Two Examples:
Ruby Giecek claimed that the entity of Madame Elenore Knott was helping her to write a book about The Dumas Brothel.
Author/investigator Karen Stevens experienced a friendly, small, unseen hand take her hand gently, in a reassuring way for a moment.
Hard evidence has also been caught.
Posted on the Dumas Brothel Hotel Museum web-site, that was established by Ruby and Jason Giecek, several clear, unmistakable photos of female entities and two male entities as well can be seen.
EVP's of Female entities mentioned above were caught as well.
Haunted Collector, March 20th episode: The team investigated this formal brothel building, that is being renovated into a bed and breakfast, at the request of the new owners, Michael and Travis.
They found some hard evidence that pointed to a prostitute, Sarah, as the most restless spirit. Caught an EVP or two, in her crib room. When investigators picked up a letter from her miner boyfriend, James, still on display, the bed shook that was caught on camera. They also found a medication made out of opium, that was used for a variety of purposes. The team surmised that Sarah was so distraught, that she took some of this medication, either to calm herself, or kill herself, as she was out of hope and very distressed, after she got the news of the mine disaster.
The team discovered that the object that was making Sarah nervous and ashamed was the bottle of opium-based medication. When they removed it from the building, evidence of her accidental overdose or suicide was taken from her sight and the sight of the new owners, Travis Eskelsen and Michael Piche, making her feel much better. Her restless activity, that was scaring the living, stopped, much to the relief of the new owners.
In the Madam's former suite, they also got another EVP.
Yes Indeed! The joint appears to still be jumping! Though Sarah feels better now, the owners report on their facebook page, "Must say that the hauntings haven't ceased happening though!"
There is evidence that at least 3 female entities stay here, with perhaps a fourth as well. More may be here, as it is uncertain how many female entities are still working in the basement.
Entities of Sarah, Madame Elenore Knott, a female entity in the basement; who perhaps was a murder victim?
The fourth female entity may be the French prostitute, Sandra, as an investigator had a personal experience in the parlor; feeling a small hand warmly take hers. However, more evidence would have to be gathered to confirm her presence.
Perhaps many male entities are still visiting their favorite sugar shack away from home.
One male entity seemed happy to be with another female entity, in the picture that captured both of them in the basement.
Another known male entity, probably the spirit of a miner, still comes to remember all the joy and sexual pleasure he had here with the women; a reward of sorts for enduring the hard life of a miner, that perhaps caused his death.