Citizens’ Investment Building

The Citizens’ Investment Company Building, built in 1908, is the only remaining building from the historic red light district known as “the stockade.” The district was created by the Mayor and city council in 1908 in response to pressure from businesses that wanted prostitution moved away from the busy Commercial Street area in downtown. Dora Topham, also known as Belle London, a renowned madam from Ogden, Utah, was hired to establish and manage the Stockade. Existing townhouses behind this building were converted to brothels and over 150 individual “cribs” were built and rented to prostitutes daily. Topham, who formed the Citizens’ Investment Company, also owned and operated the restaurant and saloon that were housed in this building. The entrance to the Stockade was framed by this building and another that mirrored it and was located approximately 25 ft. to the east. The Stockade flourished until 1911 when Topham closed it due to pressure from citizens, nearby businesses and the police.

This building is also closely associated with the ethnic neighborhood known as “Greek Town” which formed in the early twentieth century around the nearby rail yards. After the Stockade closed, this building served the local community for nearly forty years housing several Greek-owned businesses such as the Open Heart coffee house and Louis Peran’s cafe. In 1950 the Rio Grande Lumber Company converted this building to a paint store and replaced the cribs and town houses with lumber sheds. Philip McCarthey purchased this building in 2000 and undertook its rehabilitation basing the work on historic photographs, making significant upgrades and reversing many non-historic modifications. The building reopened for public use as the Orbit Cafe in 2001.

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