The Dumas, the haunted brothel I married into
I love Montana History. I mean I love it! And I was actually involved in a teeny tiny piece of that history for about 7 years.
Back in 1992, I married into the family that (then) owned the Dumas Brothel in Butte, Rudy and Jane Giecek. I was thinking of the Dumas today, and I thought I'd give it to you from a married-to-a-Giecek's point of view.
First, I'll give you the Tammie run-down of the history of the Dumas. I don't know a lot, so prepare to be underwhelmed. The Dumas was the longest running brothel in America. It was operating with ladies and such from 1890 to 1982. Of course, the hey day of the Dumas was in the mining days in Butte. Rudy would show me artifacts and rooms and tell me stories of the cribs, the main floor and the upper rooms, where the more expensive girls worked. He told me that there were tunnels where the miners would sneak in and go down to the Cribs with the girls.
The Cribs are horrifying to say the least. The "most affordable" girls operated there. And you can very much feel that vibe when you're down there. The rooms are small and only have a small bed, maybe a chair, and a curtain for privacy. There were, 6 or 8 of these rooms in the basement. It ran about 50 cents to spend time with a girl in the Cribs. As you progressed up, the girls and the rooms got substantially nicer. Some of the things that really stick out in my memory are the "chests", refrigerators and such that the girls were said to hide in during the many raids to "clean up" Butte's red light district. On the main floor, Rudy had a gift shop, and some of the rooms were brought back to the days of the miners. Upstairs was where the "most expensive" girls were, including the madam. Rudy had those rooms back to what they were. It was cool.
Now let's talk about just how dang haunted that place is. In the early 90's, I was up in the Madame's room, in the middle of the day. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone wearing a long black dress and a hat and when I turned around there was no one there. My then husband, Jeff, was there, and he saw it too. Rudy told me she was around all the time, and he thought it was the Madame McGinnis from the turn of the century. When you're down in the cribs, the feeling of sadness, fright and desperation is palpable. And I'm not exaggerating even a tish. I couldn't bare to stay down there. No matter what part of the brothel you're in, no matter what time of the day, chances were pretty good that you'd have an encounter.
My daughters had even more encounters with the ghosts of the brothel, as when Jeff and I got divorced, they'd spend their summers in Butte with their dad and Rudy and Jane. They practically spent their childhood in America's longest operating brothel.
Rudy was SO proud of that place. He even wrote a book about it, Venus Alley. He really dedicated everything he had to it, but sadly, the odds were not in his favor. He had to sell it in the early 2000's, I believe. I see that the Dumas has new owners now. Hopefully, they have the time, resources and love for that place that Rudy had, and can bring it back to the amazing piece of Montana History it is. I wish them nothing but the best and can't wait to see it.