Gleim Building II

Missoula Downtown Historic District

Mary Gleim, one of Missoula’s most colorful characters, built this “female boarding house” at the heart of the red light district between 1893 and 1902. It operated as a brothel until progressive reforms closed the district in 1916. The building later became an automobile repair shop. Mary owned considerable property in Missoula and elsewhere. Her splashy career included conviction for attempted murder and a prison term at Deer Lodge. Future governor of Montana Joseph Dixon was the prosecuting attorney. While awaiting trial at the county jail, officials let Mary out ostensibly to collect rents from her red light properties. She assaulted a rival but escaped conviction on that charge. During her penitentiary stint, Mary was viciously attacked by another female prisoner and reportedly never quite recovered from the stab wounds. Reputedly a smuggler of laces, diamonds, opium, and Chinese railroad workers, the mountainous madam weighed in at 300 pounds. She was a formidable opponent, “a relentless hater," and a match for any man. “Mother Gleim,” as she was also known, retained title to this two-story vernacular commercial style brick building until her death in 1914. She left an estate of $100,000 and explicit instructions for her burial in the city cemetery. According to her wishes, Mary’s tombstone—unlike all others which face east and west—faces the railroad tracks. This way, Mary could bid farewell to the many railroad men and others who were her customers.

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255/257 West Front Street, Missoula, Montana ~ Private