Downtown Cottage Grove, Oregon, was granted status as a Historical District back in 1993. The record shows that a number of historical buildings and buildings of interest line the main thoroughfare (while failing to say that the final parade scene in Animal House was shot on the very same street 15 years earlier, which it totally should have), and one of them was this one, The Hart Building. The word “brothel” comes up about half a dozen times in an official registration form search, which is great, and I had been told by the folks who operated one of the adjoining businesses that the upstairs of The Hart Building had once been such an establishment. The registration form doesn’t corroborate that at all, but rather says that the upstairs was used for “lodgings” in the 1920s, until a revivalist church came and took over the joint in 1933.
Only evidence of the church and the businesses downstairs remain, and, honestly, it’s pretty disgusting up there, but walking around and looking back at all these pictures, all I can see is brothel. The one toilet, the big lounging rooms–some for the customers, some for the girls, maybe one of them the madam’s bedroom–each tiny bedroom with a single window in it, sometimes looking out to nowhere, the ironic and hilarious dichotomy of a fundamentalist church taking over the place right afterwards. All the crap up there really makes it hard to mentally picture, especially the collection of stuff in the main waiting area at the top of the steps–or what would have been the main waiting area had the place actually been a whorehouse, which I’m pretty sure it was–but if you look hard enough during the video and, of course, use your imagination, you’ll see it’s there.