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Colorado - COLORADO LEGENDSCOLORADO LEGENDS

Pearl de Vere - Soiled Dove of Cripple Creek

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Pearl de Vere arrived in Cripple Creek, Colorado from Denver during the Silver Panic of 1893. When the country moved to the gold standard, millionaires, including the likes of Horace Tabor, lost their fortunes and businesses were effected all over the city. This included the many houses of ill-repute.

Pearl de Vere was well known in Denver as Mrs. Martin and had obtained a small fortune from her services to the wealthy gentlemen of Denver. However, when the first slowdown occurred in the city, the wise Ms. Pearl headed to the booming gold camp of Cripple Creek.

Purchasing a small frame house on Myers Avenue, she opened up for "business” and was an overnight success. Pearl, at 31, was described as red-haired, beautiful, strong willed, and a smart business woman.

 

Though little is known of her background, historians believe that she was raised near Evansville, Indiana by a good family, who thought that Pearl worked as a dress designer to the wealthy wives of the area.

 

Painted Lady

No picture of Pearl de Vere exists. This painting. called Lady Lilith, is by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

 

 

Catering to the more prosperous gentlemen of Cripple Creek, Pearl’s ladies were the most beautiful of any parlour in the camp, wore fine clothing, received monthly medical exams, and were paid well. And though the "good” women of Cripple Creek shuddered at the thought, Pearl pranced through the camp in a small open carriage, led by a team of fine black horses almost daily. Dressed in a different beautiful costume on every outing, her clothes were the envy of the women and produced the desired effect on the men, as they stared at her with longing.

Horrified at Pearl’s outings and the fact that Pearl’s ladies dared to shop on Bennett Avenue, the "good” women of the camp complained. Soon, Marshal Wilson regulated the shopping hours of "the girls,” allowing them to visit the stores only during "off hours.” In addition, each "working lady” was required to pay a six dollar monthly tax and madams were charged sixteen dollars a month. However, business was brisk and this did little to diminish the popularity of the parlor houses. Meanwhile, Pearl continued her lively forays in her carriage through the streets of the camp. Children were forbidden to walk near Myers Avenue and were made to shield their eyes when Pearl paraded by in her fine carriage.

Soon, Pearl would meet a man named C.B. Flynn, the owner of a small mill. The two married in 1895; however, Pearl continued to run her profitable business. Not long after they were married, a fire raged through the camp, destroying Pearl’s business, Flynn’s mill, and most of the business district of the camp.

 

The fire ruined Flynn financially and in order to get back on his feet, he accepted a job smelting iron and steel and Monterrey, Mexico. However, Pearl remained in Cripple Creek, intent on rebuilding her business. And rebuild, she did, with the finest parlour house that the city had ever seen. Opening in 1896, the two-story brick building was named "The Old Homestead.” Pearl spared no expense in decorating the opulent parlour, importing wallpaper from Paris and outfitting it with the finest of hardwood furniture, expensive carpets, crystal electric chandeliers and leather-topped gaming tables. The house even included a telephone, an intercom system, and two bathrooms, at a time when such things were mostly unheard of.

 

Four lovely girls joined Pearl in making her house the most whispered about place in town. Drawing a rich clientele from as far away as Denver, references were required of the guests. At $250 a night, when $3 a day was considered a good wage for a miner, only the extremely wealthy could afford to visit The Old Homestead, and reservations were generally required.

 

Lavish parties were held at The Old Homestead, complete with tropical flowers, and the finest of food and drink. On June 4, 1897, Pearl threw a very extravagant party sponsored by a millionaire admirer from Poverty Gulch. Townspeople watched as cases of French champagne, Russian caviar and Alabama Wild Turkey were carted into the parlor. Soon arrived two orchestras from Denver. This would be the party to "end all parties.” And, how foretelling that statement would become.

 

 

 Continued Next Page

 

 

Bennett Avenue Cripple Creek between 1895 and 1900

Bennett Avenue between 1895 and 1900.

 

One of Pearl's Girls

One of Pearl's girls. This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!

 

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Unique Greeting Cards Exclusive to Legends of America

 

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