Everleigh Club

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The Everleigh Club was a high-class brothel which operated in Chicago, Illinois from February 1900 until October 1911. It was owned and operated by Ada and Minna Everleigh.


Opening of the Everleigh Club

Prior to relocating to Chicago, the Everleigh sisters toured brothels in many cities, trying to find a location which had "plenty of wealthy men but no superior houses." They were directed to Chicago by Cleo Maitland, a madam in Washington, D.C., who suggested they contact Effie Hankins in Chicago.[1] After buying Hankins's brothel at 2131–2133 South Dearborn Street, they "fired all the women and completely redecorated the entire building with the most luxurious appointments available. Silk curtains, damask easy chairs, oriental rugs, mirrored ceilings, mahogany tables, gold rimmed china and silver dinnerware, perfumed fountains in every room, a $15,000 [equivalent to $369,205 in 2007][2] gold-leafed piano for the Music Room, mirrored ceilings, a library filled with finely bound volumes, an art gallery featuring nudes in gold frames—no expense was spared. While the heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson thought the $57 gold spittoons in his café were worth boasting about, the patrons of the Everleigh Club were obliged to expectorate in $650 gold cuspidors."[3] The Everleigh Club was described by Chicago's Vice Commission as "probably the most famous and luxurious house of prostitution in the country."[4]

Prior to the opening of the Everleigh Club, Ada was responsible for recruiting talent for the club. She started by contacting her former employees in Omaha and spreading the word through brothels across the country. She conducted face-to-face interviews with all the applicants.[5] The brothel opened on February 1, 1900 with little fanfare, and turned away many of the clients who initially appeared because the Everleigh Sisters did not deem them suitable for the clientèle they were seeking. Once the club was open, Ada, who was quieter and more reserved than her sister, took on the responsibility of making sure the club was kept up to standards. She oversaw cleaning and renovations.[6] Ada was also very much taken with the gold leaf piano in the Club and once claimed she rejected a suitor because he disapproved of the piano.

The club's heyday

The clientèle of the Everleigh House included captains of industry, important politicians and European nobility and royalty. Among their clientèle were Marshall Field, Jr., Edgar Lee Masters, Theodore Dreiser, Ring Lardner, John Warne Gates, Jack Johnson, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia.

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