Pearl de Vere
- Soiled Dove of Cripple Creek
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Pearl de Vere arrived in
Colorado from Denver during the Silver Panic of 1893. When the
country moved to the gold standard, millionaires, including the likes of
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
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
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.
No picture of Pearl de Vere exists. This
called Lady Lilith, is by Dante Gabriel
|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
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
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
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,
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 between 1895 and 1900.
One of Pearl's girls.
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
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