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The Cribs

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1890s. 121, 123, 125–127 E. Pacific Ave. (northwest corner of Spruce St.) (NR)

As in most predominately male mining districts, prostitution flourished in Telluride. Of twenty-six houses of ill repute, these three simple, lap-sided, front-gabled cottages remain. Small, two-room brothels like these once lined the eastern end of Pacific Avenue, wall-to-wall with the town's saloons and gambling halls. These humble “cribs” were usually torn down as mining towns became more “civilized.” These are among the few of the kind surviving anywhere in the nation. At the east end of the row, at the northwest corner of Pacific Avenue and Spruce Street, a more elaborate “female boarding house” occupied the upper story of the Silver Bell Saloon and Dance Hall (1890; 1986 restoration, David W. Petersen). This simple, two-story clapboard box is now a tiny school for the arts. In 1979 the National Trust for Historic Preservation purchased the three rare cribs and sold them, with protective covenants, to the town of Telluride, which has rehabilitated them as low-income housing.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel


What's Nearby


Thomas J. Noel, "The Cribs", [Telluride, Colorado], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Colorado, Thomas J. Noel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 588-588.

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