Not every historic building has a rosy past, and a building doesn’t need one to be worthy of preserving. The darker parts of a town’s history often survive to modern day even if people don't want them to. These buildings stand as a reminder that the past wasn’t perfect. The Hotel Rex building is one such structure in Sheridan that has a darker side to its history but is beloved by the community.
Hotel Rex opened on the second floor of 350 N. Main Street during the summer of 1913. Mr. and Mrs. Bantock, formerly of Denver, owned and operated the hotel. The Sheridan Enterprise of July 11, 1913 described it as “the prettiest little lodging house in the west”. The hotel boasted 26 rooms fully furnished. The four rooms overlooking MainStreet were the largest and had the best furniture. One even had mahogany furnishings! Each room had hot and cold water, a radiator, and electricity. The owners wanted an establishment that offered reasonable rates as well as comfort, with weekly rates starting at $3.00.
In 1919 the Sheridan Improvement Company, a group of well meaning men with money, decided to buy out all the properties on Grinnell Street between Connor and Custer Streets, as well as other properties in the same area. This was the red light district, and their aim was to clean up prostitution in Sheridan. Their efforts backfired. The prostitutes didn’t go out of business. They just moved. Some of them set up shop on Main Street, taking up rooms in hotels like Hotel Rex. The hotel had several madams before the business passed to the best known madam in Sheridan’s history.
Pearl Logan became the proprietor and madam of the Hotel Rex in 1930. Pearl is a legend in Sheridan and there are still plenty of locals who remember her running the hotel. There were typically 3-5 prostitutes working out of the Hotel Rex at any given time. The rest of the rooms were for regular boarders. She had working girls in the Hotel Rex until 1960 when Attorney General, Henry Burgess, cracked down on prostitution. Once prostitution was forced even further into the shadows, the Hotel Rex closed. Today the door leading up to the Hotel Rex is right next to ABC signs. The black and yellow name signs are still painted on the brick on either side of the door. The mural on the side of the building bearing the hotel’s name is also still visible as you drive south on Main Street. They stand as little reminders of what the top floor of the building was for so long. The space that was once the prettiest little lodging house in the west may not be a hotel anymore, but its history is part of Sheridan’s story.
Want to learn more about Sheridan’s red light district? Keep an eye out on our website for upcoming walking tours this summer.