ONE OF BUTTE, MONTANA'S oldest and most historic buildings is getting at least one more chance to find a way to keep standing.
For 98 years, all the way until 1982, the 42-room downtown structure was an operating brothel. But since it quit providing the services it was built to offer, the Dumas Brothel has struggled to pay its way.
Currently it is operating as a museum and offers guided tours for $8 a person but revenue raised isn't meeting expenses. Although the building is listed on the Register of Historic Places, the Dumas has fallen into disrepair and behind in its taxes.
Two investors in Butte intend to change that. The two purchased the 122-year-old brothel with intentions of turning it into a hotel.The purchase, at least for the moment, has eased fears the property soon would revert to the county or be sold and razed.
According to a recent article in the Missoulian, the building's new owners plan to stabilize the building, stop or slow its deterioration, catch up on overdue taxes and look for additional investors.
There is work that needs to be done. According to the Missoulian, the building has neither running water nor heat, an interior wall is crumbling, a chimney has collapsed and many of the ceilings are stained with water damage.
Butte is known for its historic architecture and lively past and the Dumas Brothel is a colorful part of that. It is located in what used to be the heart of Butte's Red Light District and is one of the few remaining buildings anywhere that was originally built to serve as a brothel.
Michael Piche, one of the new owners, told the Missoulian that while money is tight, he and his partner would try to "do what it takes" to save the brothel. "This is a place that deserves respect and appreciation," Piche was quoted as saying.