BUTTE - Two Butte men have purchased the historic Dumas Brothel and plan to improve the beleaguered building.
Michael Piche, 28, and Travis Eskelsen, 32, purchased the building a few weeks ago from Rudy Giecek. Located at 45 E. Mercury in the middle of Butte’s former red light district, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and currently operates as a museum.
Yet it had been slipping into disrepair and now suffers from significant structural deficiencies. An interior wall is crumbling, a chimney has collapsed onto the second floor and large swaths of the building show water damage from years of operating without a solid roof.
Former owner Giecek had not paid taxes on the building the past three years and the property was in danger of reverting to the county or another buyer who could have decided to tear it down.
Butte-Silver Bow Community Development Director Karen Byrnes said it was “an endangered property that was in line to revert back” to the county.
But Piche and Eskelson stepped forward and worked out a deal with Giecek after promising him they would work to keep the building standing.
Piche said he has paid two of the three delinquent tax years already and has until March 2013 to be current on the building.
“We don’t have a lot of money, but we’re going to do what it takes,” said Piche, who grew up in Missoula. “This is a place that deserves respect and appreciation.”
Piche said his long-term plan is to turn the 42-room building into a hotel. But that will take a lot of money and a lot of time. The building has no running water, nor heat. Piche said in the short term, they plan to stabilize the building, look for financing and work with the Butte Archives to better document and care for the artifacts inside.
He said it will remain open as a museum with an $8 guided tour through the summer.
The Dumas was built in 1890 for use as a brothel – one of very few buildings still standing that was designed with that purposed in mind. It ran until 1982. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.