Maxine, The Hot Springs Madam
The history of Hot Springs acknowledges Maxine Temple Jones as the “Brothel Queen.” She was once touted as the richest madam in Arkansas, grossing $5,000 per night. From 1945 through 1962, Maxine hosted high-rollers from Dallas, Chicago, and Little Rock. In her book, Call Me Madam, Jones recalls that period of time, known as the Spa's hey-day, as being all about "gambling, girls, and whiskey."
Her business was located at the Central Avenue Hotel located on Central Avenue near Bath House Row. Built CIRCA 1895 as the Crystal Saloon, Maxine's has had a colorful history. In the early 1900’s, the second floor held the Hot Springs Business Men's Social Club, alias Maxine's bordello.
Not only was her business questionable, there was even corruption in prostitution. Police officers collected commissions from the madams as hush money from prosecution. A deputy sheriff, who was a part-time preacher approached the madam, “Maxine, we need a cross on top of our church and we are $200 short.” She gave him the needed funds. He responded, “Maxine, I’ll tell the church that you gave this donation.” (let’s hope he didn’t tell)
Like many of the businesses in downtown Hot Springs, the downstairs area was a legitimate business like a store or restaurant. But a set of stairs led to a second floor illegal or shady business, like a casino, saloon or brothel.
The old Maxine’s is now the location of Maxine’s Coffee House and Puzzle Bar. The building is a fine example of late nineteenth century architecture because of the upper facade. Over the years, the slightly shady background of the building disappeared and has been replaced by more conventional business including Sidney's Shoe Store during the late 60's. Renovation began in 1989, and Maxine's opened for business January 8, 1991. Maxine’s still gives Hot Springs a glimpse of its sordid history.
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