01 August 2021

Helen Blazes and her Brothel at 7 Victoria Alley

 Helen Blazes brothel at 7 Victoria Alley
from SL Herald 1902-12-18
One of SLC’s more famous, and successful, brothel Madams was Helen Blazes. Of course, that was not her real name.

Her real name was Lillie. The history of her life is a bit spotty but there are glimpses with some good detail.

Lillie probably grew up in Ohio, lived through the Civil War, and married Dr. Leander “Lee” Hutchison when she was 19 in 1877. The following year she gave birth to her only(?) child, Blanche Hutchison. Lillie followed her husband to Kentucky where he earned his medical degree and then the family relocated to Olathe, Kansas where her brothers-in-law ran a newspaper.

The Olathe newspapers often wrote about Lillie and she was referred to as "Mrs Dr Hutchison." She seemed to have a respectable life and attended church. Her husband had a problem with alcohol and after a few years in Olathe, Lillie left him.

The next 10 years of Lillie’s life are unknown but by 1892 she was 33 years old and running a brothel house in SLC using the name Helen Blazes. Her young teenage daughter, Blanche, was living away from both parents and staying with relatives in Denver, Colorado. Perhaps Lillie decided to operate in SLC as it was close to her daughter but far enough away that Blanche would be shielded from the stigma.
Sanborn Map 1898

Lillie, now Helen Blazes, moved her business often, at times being on Main St, Franklin Ave (now Edison St), South Temple, and State St. In 1897 she moved to her famous location at 7 Victoria Alley.

Victoria Alley was a midblock alley between Main and State Streets and 200-300 South with a barely noticeable narrow 12-foot entrance located at 232 S State Street. This area is now wide open and occupied by the Gallivan Center; Helen Blazes brothel was about where the Gallivan Center stage is now located.

Helen Blazes catered to higher class clients and often served wine and fine liquors instead of the standard beer. 

When Belle London opened the Stockade in 1908 (see previous posts) Helen Blazes quickly closed her business and retired at the age of 49. She announced to the papers that Helen Blazes was off to Europe and would never return to SLC.

In reality, she stayed in SLC and started going by her legal name: Lillie Dreyfuss. She rented a modest house at 669 S Main St for the next several decades. She was often recognized as Helen Blazes and was the target of several burglaries in which diamond jewelry was stolen, one burglary was of several diamond rings and earrings worth $4K (~$110K today).

A few months after one of these home invasion robberies in which she was bound and gagged; Lillie Dreyfuss (aka Helen Blazes) shot herself in the heart on June 23 1932 at the age of 73. She left a note saying “I am through with life” and was found by her maid the next morning. 

Her daughter and sole heir settled her affairs and buried her mother, Lillie Dreyfuss, at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery.

Sources: Olathe Mirror 1882-03-30; Olathe Gazette 1882-11-30; SL Herald 1892-07-07; SL Trib 1897-02-22; SL Herald 1900-03-28; SL Herald 1908-02-07; SL Telegram 1909-06-17; Ogden Daily Standard 1913-09-20; SL Trib 1932-06-25; SL Trib 1932-06-30; Ancestry.com

Main Street and 700 South, from UDSH

Lillie T. Dreyfuss gravesite at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery, from findagrave


  1. Helen Blazes parlor house is mentioned by John Held Jr. in the preface to his illustrated cartoon book of "Frankie and Johnny" (1930), as the place where he learned the song "from a colored piano player, who was called 'Professor'."

    1. oh, that's a good tidbit! I need to look into that. thank you.