Filed Under Virginia City

Green Front Boarding House

Virginia City Historic District

During the wild 1860s, Virginia City had no red-light district and “sporting women” intermingled with the general population. By the 1870s, there were few customers to support such activities and the women moved on. After dredging crews began to work Alder Gulch in the 1890s, prostitutes returned to town. Women worked out of three houses labeled “female boarding” on historic maps. Two were on Idaho Street. The third was here at the Green Front, where Mattie “Dutch Mat" Lee was madam in the later 1890s. Mattie was the mistress of Fairweather Inn owner Frank McKeen, who purchased the two adjoining log cabins for her and set her up in business. On the fringe of Virginia City’s Chinatown, this building faced the Chinese temple, which stood between the two trees across the street. Prostitutes across the West and here in Virginia City relied upon Chinese businesses for inexpensive meals, herbal remedies, and opium. Recent archaeology at the Green Front proved this relationship. Fragments of Chinese crockery, dinnerware, and the lid of an opium can were among the artifacts discovered in excavations along the building’s foundation.


The Green Front in Virginia City, Montana
The Green Front in Virginia City, Montana View of two adjoining houses, snow covered hills in the background. Identified as the former Green Front Boarding House for women, a brothel in Virginia City, Montana. Source: PAc 956-426. Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT. Creator: Unknown photographer Date: Between 1920-1950.
Green Front Boarding House, Virginia City
Green Front Boarding House, Virginia City View looking south at building facade Source: Courtesy of Montana Heritage Commission Creator: Kate Steeley, Montana Heritage Commission Date: Oct 2019


West Wallace Street, Virginia City, Montana | Public


Montana National Register Sign Program, “Green Front Boarding House,” Historic Montana, accessed June 18, 2024,