"The Last House on the Block": Preserving the Dumas Brothel in Butte, Montana: 1890-2016

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Date
2016-10-28
Authors
Sales, Veronica Leigh
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Publisher
Middle Tennessee State University
Abstract
Prostitution became one of Butte’s main industries after its establishment as a mining camp in the nineteenth century. The Dumas Brothel, a Victorian parlor-house brothel modeled after contemporary rooming houses, is one of the last examples of this once-thriving industry in Butte, and one of the least-altered and best-preserved examples in the country. It operated as a house of prostitution until 1982, making it one of the longest-operating brothels in the country. It operates now as a brothel museum—one of the few in the country. Since its closing, the Dumas has been preserved through the efforts of several individuals—mostly locals, who have recognized the Dumas’s importance to local history and its architectural appeal. Moreover, as the site of over ninety years of women’s labor, the Dumas is incredibly significant for its importance to an oft-neglected aspect of women’s history, labor history, and frontier history.
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Keywords
Adaptive reuse, Brothel, Butte, Historic preservation, Montana, Prostitution
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