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.

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Map

West Wallace Street, Virginia City, Montana ~ Public