Mattie was Colorado’s most notorious Madame. She ran brothels in Georgetown and Leadville, as well as one in Dawson City. Three cathouses in Denver operated under Mattie’s expertise. One, at 2009 Market Street has been designated as a Denver landmark.
Mattie’s House of Mirrors was located at 1942 Market Street. This was a most elegant brothel and the most famous in all of Colorado. In 1998, it was completely renovated.
Today it is a popular restaurant. Upstairs is a museum honoring the world’s oldest profession and a bar.
Mattie was born on a small farm in Kansas in 1846. She ran away from home when she was a young teenager. By the time she was 19, she ran a very successful house of ill repute in Springfield, Illinois.
As mentioned earlier, Mattie never worked as a prostitute, but started her profession as a Madame. Mattie was an entrepreneur before anyone had ever spoken of or heard the word. Mattie was ambitious.
Mattie was an attractive blond with a nice figure. She claimed she was an excellent shot and always packed a pistol. She had a lover, Cort Thompson, who was shot in the neck when Mattie was involved in a duel with another Madame, Katie Fuller, over Thompson’s affections. Supposedly, both women attended the duel topless and were bound and bent to kill each other. They were unsuccessful. The duel took place on the banks of the South Platte River on April 21, 1877. The area where the duel took place is now Commons Park.
In 1900, a census was taken in Denver. Mattie’s profession was recorded as a “land lady” renting out rooms to “female boarders.” These girls were between the ages of 19 and 25.
Every year Mattie traveled back east to recruit “fresh” new talent. Upon her return, she always paraded her new girls through the streets of Denver hoping to attract new clients to her establishment. It worked and clients who had lost interest in Mattie’s girls were often at her door before nightfall. The sight of the new girls piqued their interest.
Mattie was a generous Madame, allowing the girls to keep 50% of their take. The prices at the House of Mirrors were very expensive.