Livingston B Street Historic District

These four small one-story houses are the only remnants of Livingston's once-thriving red-light district. A convenient but respectable distance from the railroad hub, commercial district, and residential neighborhoods, here the "painted ladies" quietly plied their trade. The houses were originally built as duplexes between 1896 and 1907. Their design resembles the gables and porches of larger houses with subtle decorative variations. B Street's establishments prospered from the 1890s to the 1920s, catering to ranch hands, sheepherders, itinerant railroad workers, and local residents. Though technically illegal, prostitution in Livingston achieved a certain "illegitimate respectability" and the district grew to encompass nine houses along a block and a half. Old-timers recall the ladies sitting in the windows with their companion lap dogs, illuminated by a red light. Though they were not socially accepted, restricted to the last rows of the Opera House, and not allowed in saloons, local merchants profited from the ladies' earnings spent on clothes, perfumes, and furs. Deliveries, however, were made only to B Street's back doors. In the late 1940s, B Street's establishments closed and the ladies moved to the outskirts of town. Some long-time residents say that Livingston "lost a lot of its color when the red lights went out."

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B Street, Livingston, Montana ~ Private