Pearl de Vere:
The Cripple Creek Madame

photo courtesy of Time Life Books

Pearl de Vere, famous madam in Denver, moved her establishment to the rich gold fields of Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Gold fever was everywhere along the Pikes Peak region and miners were earning thousands of dollars a month for their labor and spending it just as quickly.

Ms. de Vere set up her “house” on the outskirts of Cripple Creek on Myers Avenue outside of town, in the middle of the red light district. 

A fire three years later destroyed most of the town, including de Vere’s house, but Pearl rebuilt and was back open within weeks.

A classy lady, she decided she wanted an opulent establishment painted pink and loaded with expensive furnishings.

Called the “Old Homestead” the place became known for a hundred miles around, even to Denver.  It was an expensive and elaborate residence.

To gain entry to the house, the front door was in charge of a crisply dressed maid who took the admittance fee charged of $50-$100. 

A letter of introduction was also required.  Pearl’s place was open to only the most affluent of customers.

Champagne flowing, fine food prepared by a chef, and elaborate drinks kept the festivities going, as well as piano player in the foyer.

Hand painted screens were scattered through the floors of the house.  Velvet wallpaper and damask curtains set the mood.

Crystal chandeliers blazed and red velvet plush furniture filled the rooms.  Paintings of scantily dressed women adorned the walls.

Many new fangled gadgets were introduced to guests for the first time.  One such item was the Edison Standard Phonograph.  Listening to music already recorded was an auditory miracle.

The introduction of electricity, made gas lamps obsolete and in every room of the house lights were on day and night.

Pearl had bathrooms with running water installed.  This was a luxury most could not afford.  Her staff of at least seven people kept the liquor cabinet stocked and saw that the culinary morsels were always available.

Pearl had a short life in Cripple Creek.  She moved there in 1893, and died in 1897 from an overdose of morphine.

The Old Homestead still exists on the outskirts of town and is preserved by the historical society in all its elegant glory.

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