JEROME -- The former Cuban Queen Bordello building collapsed on a windy Sunday afternoon in Jerome, after a century of debauchery, stories of ghosts and endless photos from passing tourists.
According to town officials, no one witnessed her demise, only a “sound” alerted townspeople that the roof had collapsed on the historic building prompting witnesses to investigate and call authorities, according to Allen Muma, President of the Jerome Historic Society and Jerome Chief of Police.
It was 5:40 p.m. Sunday when bricks and mortar crashed over an iron fence, which was cordoning off the building, and spread out onto the road in front of the structure, Muma said. A few hours earlier, that area is usually filled with tourists, he added.
Besides being a popular tourist hot-spot for Jerome, the Cuban Queen Bordello is the focus of the book “The Ghost of the Cuban Queen Bordello.” The building is also listed as a place to visit on Trip Advisor and was a known hangout of jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton.
Even though the building is located 100 yards from the town’s Sliding Jail and sliding parking area, the two are not related, Muma said. The town is in the process of rehabbing the Sliding Jail and the parking area, which is sliding down a hill, Muma said.
“It’s a shame,” said Muma, reflecting the sentiment of many people in town on social media. The building has not been taken care of in the last 18 years. Muma said the current owner has owned the building for about 4 or 5 years. Before that, the building was owned by a circus clown from North Carolina, he added.
The Jerome Historic Society attempted to purchase it to shape it up and stabilize it, but was never able to afford it, Muma said.
The wind was blowing pretty good in Jerome Sunday night, Muma said, and it may have been enough to wobble the unstable structure and take it down, he said.
The roof is gone, there are massive cracks in the walls that remain, Muma said. The building as it stands is a “public nuisance” because of its unstable condition. Muma thought it may take a deconstruction and construction to rebuild the building.
Otherwise, any other kind of structure would have to go through the zoning process.
The building has been vacant since the 1980s when it was used as a residence, Muma said.
The Jerome Historic Society tried to buy it a number of times to stabilize it. That is the role of the Jerome society, Muma said, to help reshape neglected properties in town before it’s too late.
Muma said the last building that fell to being unstable was the Chinese laundry that became unstable due to erosion 13 or 14 years ago.