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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jennie's Place

Oh to be able to time travel — to be able to visit all these crazy, alien places and times!

Jerome, Arizona (my new fav spot) — Once known as the wickedest town in the west, Jerome was a copper mining camp, growing from a settlement of tents to a roaring mining community — sparks my imagination somethin’ fierce. Mind you, I wouldn’t have wanted to actually live back then and there. Hells, we didn’t even have the right to vote until 1920. To be an independent minded woman in the late 1800s anywhere but maybe especially in this “wickedest town in the west” would’ve been a colossal challenge to say the very least.

I want to stop in, make a wee social call, take a mini-vaca in this wild patch of history though. I want to see the unvarnished, unromanticized reality of it all. And then be able to come home to the warm, relatively evolved current world.

From a plaque on a fairly nondescript structure:
This building was originally a brothel known as Jennie’s Place. It was built in 1898 by legendary madam Jennie Bauters who came to Jerome from Belgium in 1896.

This was her third building on this site. The first burned down in 1897. Her second building, pictured at left, was destroyed in the fire of 1898.

Jennie is the woman in the black dress in the center of the balcony. The current building, which featured the first concrete sidewalk in Jerome, is one of the few in the business district that survived the fire of 1899.

When Jennie Bauters was murdered in 1905, she was reputed to be the wealthiest woman in the Arizona Territory. After her death, her son sold the building to John M. Sullivan
who converted the bordello into The Sullivan Hotel.
 From a blog entitled, simply, Jerome Arizona:
Prostitution isn’t a pretty thing, but it happens. A part of community, it was, especially in remote mining towns full of scared and estranged men.

Here, it was business as usual. Madam Jennie had the biggest establishment in town. Despite burning down three times in a row, it was always the first building to go back up – the combination of Jennie’s cash and volunteer labor always made it so.
Go read the rest — it's fascinating.

From a bit in the Arizona Republican Newspaper on September 7, 1905
News comes from Kingman of the second awful tragedy to be enacted in that vicinity within a few days.  Jennie Bauter, a woman well known in northern Arizona, was shot four times and instantly killed by a man named Leigh who was posing as her husband.  The shots were all well aimed and any one of them might have proved fatal.   Leigh then turned the gun
on himself and fired once, the bullet penetrating his lungs and it is supposed fatally injuring.

It is said the woman was employed in a saloon probably as a singer or to encourage the selling of drinks.  Leigh had approached her and asked for money which she declined to advance to him and they quarreled for sometime when he became desperate and began shooting.

His victim lived in Jerome previous to a couple of years ago and owned considerable property there when she was killed.
And then, later, after Jennie's exit and demise came the reformers and Husband’s Alley.
With Jerome’s rough and tumble early days came the red light district and prostitutes. Much of the red light district was located on Hull Avenue, the road below Main Street. In 1913, reformers helped pass an ordinance restricting houses of ill fame from being located downtown. Citizens showed their disdain for the law by naming the alleyway from Main Street to Hull Avenue “Husband’s Alley.” Red Light district buildings on Hull Avenue included The Cribs, a brick structure that no longer exists, the Ladies Jail is still currently located on Hull Avenue in the bottom floor of the new State Motor building.

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