Friday, June 16, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: June 16, 1860 – Belle Brezing



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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -

Mary Belle Brezing, who operated a well-known brothel in Lexington, Kentucky, was born the illegitimate child of Sarah Ann Cox in Lexington on June 16, 1860. She took the name of the man her mother later married, George Brezing. At fifteen and pregnant, Belle Brezing married James Kenney on September 15, 1875. A few days later her boyfriend Johnny Cook either committed suicide or was murdered at the back gate of her home, and her new husband left her. Brezing's retarded daughter, Daisy May Kenney, was born on March 14, 1876. In 1879 Brezing became a prostitute in the brothel of Jennie Hill (in the house where Mary Todd Lincoln once lived, on West Main Street in Lexington).
In the early 1880s Brezing rented a row house and opened her own establishment. In 1894, with the backing of a wealthy Philadelphia client who came to Lexington during the trotting meets at the Red Mile, Brezing bought a house at 59 Megowan Street, which she filled with elegant furnishings. In contrast to other local houses of ill repute, Brezing's had strict standards of behavior for the employees; Brezing required them to be formally dressed while in the parlor. She and her prostitutes soon became widely known, and they entertained a local and international clientele.

Contributions to carefully selected officials allowed her to operate with little interference from the law. In 1882, when she was charged with operating a house of ill repute, she was pardoned by special executive order of Gov. Luke Blackburn (1879-83). In April 1917 Brezing's house, along with the other Lexington brothels, was closed by order of the army for the protection of the young soldiers stationed at Camp Stanley on the Versailles Road. She never reopened her business and lived a reclusive life until her death on August 11, 1940. She was buried in Lexington's Calvary Cemetery.
E.I. ("BUDDY") THOMPSON, Entry Author

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Thompson, E. (1868). Belle Brezing Photographic Collection.
2003AV1, Special Collections Research Center - University Archives Records Program

Townsend, W. (1966). The most orderly of disorderly houses. Lexington, Ky.: Privately printed.
HQ146.L6 T690 1966, Special Collections Research Center

Pack, J. (1992). The fashion of a madam : A material culture analysis of garments from the Belle Brezing Collection. Lexington, Ky.: [s.n.].
Theses 1992, Young Library - Theses 5th Floor Stacks

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