Below Main Street, as you enter Diaz Street is the Cribs District, more affectionately called “Husband’s Alley” during its heydays. During Jerome's more decadent times, brothels and bordellos could be found anywhere.
However, when the town decided to be more “civilized,” these houses of business were banned from Main Street and most relocated to the Crib District, that was filled with numerous women more then happy to provide “entertainment” to the many miners of the rowdy city. At one point, it was estimated that more than 100 prostitutes plied their trade in Jerome, with such notable madams as Nora “Butter” Brown and Jennie Banters. Madam Brown was known as a no-nonsense business woman and was Jerome's first madam, owning the first brothel of the camp in a two story wooden building, located where the Sullivan Building stands today.
Though nothing to look at herself and having a reputation of being able to drink most men under the table, Madam Brown did a brisk business. She was fond of saying, "I know I'm not much to look at boys, but wait until you see the girls. You're really going to love me then." She would then let out a loud horse laugh. She was right about her not being much to look at.” And true to her word, the women that worked for her were some of the loveliest in town. Even Nora, though plain of face, her figure beckoned to the female-starved men of the camp. Brown is credited for being the first to introduce Jennie Banters to the lifestyle, who is sometimes credited with being Jerome's first madam. Jennie, who operated her business in what is now the Mile High Inn, was obviously not the first, but she did go on to become the most popular madam and one of the richest women in Arizona. Besides Madams Nora Brown and Jennie Banters, other popular madams in the city included such lively monikers as Rose Lily, Cuban Mary, and Madam Pearl, who was never seen without a cigarette dangling from her lips.
For those women who didn’t do so well, or weren’t pretty enough to work in one of the more ”respectable” brothels, they plied their trade from small shacks that lined the alley, referred to “cribs.” Both “high class” brothel operations and cribs remained a mainstay in Jerome long after they were made illegal, continuing to operate into the 1940’s.
Today, when visitors wander through this historic alley, it is easy to imagine hearing the voices of “soiled doves” calling from their long vanished cribs. For some; however, they are sure that a number of these “old girls” continue to linger here.
In this alley many have reported paranormal phenomena including the feeling of being watched, the sounds of phantom footsteps, a persistent odor of perfume, and strange shadows that move around at night.
The life of a prostitute during Jerome's heydays was difficult and dangerous and a number of women lost their lives to the men they “entertained,” one of which was a stunningly beautiful girl named Sammie Dean who was strangled by a customer. To this day, her murder remains unsolved. Whether it is the beautiful Sammie Dean or any number of other nameless girls who lost their lives in this alley, some are said to continue to haunt this once ribald street.
You can find this area across the street from the English Kitchen, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the state of Arizona.
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