Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Madame Brussels at home

If it was important, I would contact the right people who would know, that is the St Kilda Historical Society. I have just rejoined the society with the idea that it can occupy some of my time when I retire.

But I knew I could do it myself with just some time needed. Remember this fairly recent post about Madame Brussels, a high end brothel keeper who operated in Melbourne in the late 1800s into the 1900s. I expect she paid the right people and had some kind of protection. No doubt some of her clients were politicians and it is suggested the visiting Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, spent some time as a guest of one of the high end madames, maybe Brussels.

Madame Brussels owned two substantial homes in Lonsdale Street in the city along with a couple of modest cottages in the back lanes and she also bought a house on Beaconsfield Parade, St Kilda. While researching I saw mention that the house still existed. Of course I wanted to see which house it was but there was not a house in that beach front street with that number in St Kilda. Ok, the street has been renumbered at some point. I let the matter go to the back of my mind, in the too hard bin, maybe to find out in the future.

The recent death of Mirka Mora saw me back checking the accuracy of what I wrote after seeing her in this photo amid the rubble of a former French embassy in St Kilda. I wanted to double check a couple of the things, and so I turned to the marvellous Sands McDougall directory. It then occurred to me that using the directory I might be able to find out which house Madame Brussels owned.

Bingo, there she is, Madame Brussels aka Caroline Hodgson at number 39 Beaconsfield Parade, St Kilda in 1900.


Now, what I need to do is go forward with the directory that is available in five year intervals. This was not easy and I was on steep learning curve about how to search Sands McDougall online, in spite of me having used it before.

Right, Beaconsfield Parade was renumbered  between 1940 and 1945. Dam, the directory changed direction. Instead of going from east to west, it went west to east. I was hoping the same resident was still in the renamed property for the five years, but no such luck. So comparing the two two lists, and changing direction I established that Madam Brussels lived at 335 Beaconsfield Parade in St Kilda.


Wow. Madame Brussels lived with her daughter,  who attended a private Catholic girls' school, right next door to where our Hair Dresser Friend lives and where R lived for a time in the 1970s. Photo from Google Street View. I immediately texted Hair Dresser Friend about her former 1900s neighbour. She replied, snot nosed kids. Parents own (delete name) a chain of cheap clothing shops (think Cotton) and live there during the week, I assume while their children attend school, otherwise they live in a large regional town.


Madame Brussels not only had had a good eye for what worked for men in their aroused and vulnerable state, she had a good eye for real estate. Her former home is now worth around $3,500,000.


With nice views of the grassed road median strip and a bit of Port Phillip Bay. Maybe it's bay views from the second storey are ven better.

25 comments:

  1. I like your idea of preparing for your retirement now with something that will keep your brain cells active. Of course we gain as well from all the interesting stories you are going to find and relate to your devoted readers.

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    1. Marie, I have a few other planned irons in the fire too. Writing posts like this even keeps the brain very active. I can't imagine how good your brain is with the research you do. Devoted readers? Maybe, and I am flattered.

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  2. It seems she was a truly excellent businesswoman.
    Interesting that she sent her daughter to a private school. I wonder whether she passed on her business acumen.

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    1. EC, I really don't know anything about her daughter, who probably concealed her mother's business in her own life. It would be interesting to know, no, not for me to research. I reckon there is a book in it, or at least a book about the denizens of Little Lon. More on Thursday.

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  3. When is your retirement date?
    And I know, I am a come lately reader, but what has been your line of work?
    I'm still enjoying Madame Brussels, and find her house very fine indeed!

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    1. Maribeth, I don't have a date. I have long service leave from work from the beginning of February until May, when I then begin eight weeks holiday, which will take me to July. I doubt I will return to work. I've never publicly said what my work is. I am sure the house is now very lovely, but in its day, we would find it dark, dreary and cold. It faces south, so no sun ever on the front of the house, the opposite to the way you think, south facing being better for you to capture winter sun.

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    2. That's what I did, took my long service leave, then used up three months of accumulated holidays, then just didn't go back to work. I didn't take all the pay in a lump sum though, I chose to have it doled out weekly just like wages, then when the holiday was over, I had banked up another couple of weeks or three and got that smaller payout in a lump sum. Better than having it all burning a hole in my pocket at once I thought.

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  4. Actual I'm releted to fairly well known jezebell. But you hardly every hear of those who our basic poor. And lived in barn with aniamals...I'm related to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_Starr...though the Shirley side

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    1. How interesting Dora. I don't know where, why or when, but I have heard of Belle Starr.

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  5. Well-spent time on a good story, Andrew!

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    1. Thanks Jan. I hope all is good with you.

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  6. That's a nice looking little house, but I wouldn't pay that much money for any house, even if I had enough $$$
    I don't personally know any hookers or even those who may have changed professions.

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    1. River, I think it would be expanded at the back to be quite a big quite large house now, as is the norm with such places. One of workmates left work and went on to become 'a receptionist' in a brothel. Eventually she did tell me she was a working girl at the brothel. She was nice and I really liked her. In our younger years we knew a couple of male prostitutes, who amused us no end with tales of their work. They didn't care whether the customer was a straight woman or a gay male. It was their job and they performed a service for a fee.

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  7. How very annoying it must be to have your road 're-numbered'.

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    1. Cro, it happened to my grandparents where their street number went from 144 to 1202.

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  8. Somehow I feel that you are not going to have any problem at all filling your retirement days Andrew, in fact you may find there aren't enough hours in the day! If it's curiousity that keeps us young you are going to be like Peter Pan, eternally youthful 😉
    P.s. that train trip will happen this month for sure 🚂

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    1. Grace, I do have to ensure that I don't spend too much time in front of the computer. That is where all the information is now. I am too old now to be eternally young. Good to hear you are going to train to the country.

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  9. Wow! This is pretty fascinating, and she was clearly a brilliant businesswoman! Hugs...RO

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    1. RO, she clearly was, but a very curious woman.

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  10. And On A Side Note, How About That AFL?? Way Exciting For Sure, If You Are Into That.

    Cheers

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    1. Padre, interest in AFL here is compulsory. I take a token interest.

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  11. She did well for herself for sure!! The kids attended Catholic school when she a Madame, very funny...

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    1. Sami, she clearly aspired to being respected, but I don't think she ever really was.

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  12. I wonder why she was called Mrs. Brussels ! Good business woman !

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    1. Madame Waterloo wondering about Madame Brussels. I guess Brussels seemed exoctic and sounded better than where she was born and she would be Madame Poland or something like that.

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