The Red Light District in Old Town Albuquerque in the 1880s (Madam Rumalda Griego’s Brothel)

A famous bordello in Old Town was owned by a woman called Rumalda Griego. It was a simple three room building that had up to 3 beds per room. Often the ladies entertain their customers simultaneously in the same room. Madam Rumalda was hauled into court on numerous occasions, most often on charges of being a public nuisance. Deputy Sheriff Cornelius Murphy once testified that he had witnessed multiple men sharing beds with the women in the house.


One of the things that made her brothel so popular was the alley that ran south of the plaza, providing discrete access to her establishment. The brothel was short lived, operating between 1881 to 1883. Records show that she had the following girls working for her;

Anna Burke
Jennie Morgan
Gertie Oliver
Jessie Hortan
Belle Springer
Ada Mann

Supposedly the establishment also had a servant and three cooks who were identified as Grace Bernard, Mary Doane, Cassie Schroeder and Allie St. Clair. Several of these girls would eventually become prostitutes at other brothels.


The approximate location of this brothel sits just behind the Plaza Gift shop next to the Covered Wagon Souvenir Store on South Plaza Street. The ghost hunters from the Southwest Ghost Hunter’s Association have suggested that the ghost of Scarlet is actually attached to this location after some of the older stories were explained. (see the information on the Manual Springer House for reference). However, it should be noted that the Covered Wagon Souvenir Store was once the site of Pasqual’s Dance Hall in 1881 before the present day building was built in 1909. This location was yet another brothel in Old Town.

The ghost hunter’s speculation comes from the sightings of the specter in the alley which was connected to Madam Rumalda Griego’s Brothel. They have also speculated on the identity of the ghost called “Scarlett”, many believing that her actual name was Lottie McDonald. This information comes from an article in the Albuquerque Citizen on November 10th, 1899.

Yesterday morning, at 11 o’clock, Lottie McDonald, one of new town’s soiled doves who has recently taken up her residence in the “alley” of old town, received quite a severe beating from her lover. Bill Whitney, the hack driver. Complaint was filed before Justice Seferino Crollott, and late In the afternoon Deputy Sheriff Smith arrested Whitney on this side. This morning the woman- beater was fined $20 and costs, or twenty-five days in the county jail. He went to jail.

However, this is all sheer speculation.

[Sources: Johnson and Johnson, “Gilded Palaces of Shame: Albuquerque’s Red Light Districts, 1880-1914” (1983); US Census, 1880-1920].[Sources: Johnson and Johnson, “Gilded Palaces of Shame: Albuquerque’s Red Light Districts, 1880-1914” (1983); US Census, 1880-1920].



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