St. Louis History

Throwback Thursday | The Brothel of Ladue | 6 Town and Country Drive

Starting in the early 1920s, Madam Mae Traynor ran a profitable brothel in a substantial neighborhood in the Village of Ladue.  The establishment appeared to be a typical suburban residence complete with a picket fence and white siding – the perfect cover. A former owner of the home said “There were four tiny outer guest rooms in a row with separate entrances at the rear of the house, which looked like a garage [a perfect arrangement for clients].” Another later owner, Mrs. Richard Scullin,  said “The men would go to Busch’s Grove for dinner and then come by for a visitation.”

The girls were not afraid of showing themselves and appeared in public with their hair tinted and coiffed. Some neighbors wanted to outlaw the salacious enterprise and complained about the embarrassment of having men arrive at this establishment near their homes.  Others disliked the idea of the ban and asked for Ladue to continue to look the other way. “Madam Traynor’s clientele included leading citizens, members of clubs and older chaps,” a resident on Ladue Lane recalled.

In effort to confuse the law and true intent of her business, Traynor’s alias was I.B. Hopkins, but neither was likely her real name.  The Village of Ladue probably knew of the problem. In fact one of the district’s first regulations addresses prostitution. “Houses or building to which any persons are allowed or admitted or permitted by the owner, keeper or occupants for the use or purpose of prostitution shall not be allowed,” stated a handwritten document, called Ordinance NO. 6 (perhaps by mere coincidence numbered the same as the brothel). The decree was signed at a Village of Ladue meeting on September 28, 1929.  The former prostitutes’ bedrooms have since become a garage (featured below).

Information originally found in Ladue Found Celebrating 100 Years of the City’s Rural-to-Regal Past by Charlene Bry


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