BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Two Butte men have purchased the building that housed the last brothel to operate in this mining town’s former red-light district with plans to renovate the crumbling property.
The Dumas Brothel is on the National Register of Historic Places and operates as a museum, but it has been slipping into disrepair. An interior wall is crumbling, a chimney has collapsed and water damage throughout the building is evidence of the need for a new roof.
The Montana Standard reports that Michael Piche, 28, and Travis Eskelsen, 32, bought the Dumas Brothel a few weeks ago from Rudy Giecek.
Giecek had not paid taxes on the building in three years and it was in danger of reverting to the county or another buyer. Piche and Eskelson worked out a deal with Giecek after promising him they would work to keep the building standing.
Piche said he has paid two of the three delinquent tax years already and has until March 2013 to pay the rest.
“We don’t have a lot of money, but we’re going to do what it takes,” said Piche, who grew up in Missoula. “This is a place that deserves respect and appreciation.”
Piche said he would like to turn the 42-room building into a hotel. But before that can happen, they must stabilize the building, look for financing and work with the Butte Archives to better document and care for the artifacts inside.
The Dumas was built in 1890 for use as a brothel, one of very few buildings still standing that was designed with that purpose in mind. It ran until 1982, just before Butte’s last madam, Ruby Garrett, went to prison for tax evasion.
Garrett, who died in March at age 94, had refused to sell the Dumas unless it could be used as a brothel.
Former Sheriff Bob Butorovich, who shut down the brothel, said at the time of Garrett’s death that prostitution had become a fact of life in Butte then with so many young, single miners.
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