The St. Charles Brothel Story

It’s well-known among Pocahontas old-timers that one room of the old St. Charles hotel was the town’s brothel back in the “roaring twenties”. It’s the room in the northeast corner of the second floor, a room with a nice view of the Black River flowing by town.

I’d owned the St. Charles for a few months when I noticed one day that there was something unusual about that second floor room. The north wall of the room runs right into the window frame of the window on the south wall of the room. See this photo…

Photo showing how the north wall of the room is even with the edge of the window on the south wall.

But from the outside of the building I noticed that that window is over 4 feet from the actual north wall of the building. See below…

Outside view of the building shows how far the window actually is from the north side (right side) of the building.

So the north wall inside the room is a “false wall”, with about 4 feet between that wall and the exterior wall of the building. Why? Nobody knows. The false wall runs the full width of the room, about 20 feet, so there’s a 4 foot x 20 foot (80 square feet) area behind that false wall that’s inaccessible from any place in the building.

I’ve speculated on what the space may have been. A hiding place for the madame’s customers in case a wife came looking for her husband? A place where Peeping Toms could pay to watch the goings on in the brothel? I guess we’ll never know.

I did open a hole into the hidden space, wondering if a dead body was walled up in there long ago, or if it contains Confederate gold. Alas, like Al Capone’s famous vault, the space is empty, other than some spider webs and a lot of dust. But it’s quite a story, and quite a mystery.

When the St. Charles restoration takes place next year, this historic room may give up a few more of its secrets. Let’s hope!

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