I was recently reading a story on Maine Today's website when one header caught my eye, "Portland's Whorehouse Riots".

Um, What?

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Granted, just judging by the title this is not a proud moment in Maine's history, which is likely why I've never heard of it or found many articles about it through Google.

Maine Today tells a story of Portland in the 1800s. There was apparently multiple brothels downtown and many of the townspeople were not happy with their presence and wanted them out of their quaint coastal town. Town officials agreed.

It was so bad, people would burn the buildings down and the city never did anything to stop them, according to Maine Today. The brothel workers would then just find another building to call home. This happened multiple times.


The brothel eventually moved to Fore Street where Maine Today reports a shoot out occurred. Bangor Daily News went into greater detail about this particular incident.

In 1849, a man by the name of Augustus King owned a dance hall in Portland, according to the BDN. Seems wholesome, right? Well, apparently it was an open secret that traveling seamen particularly enjoyed the establishment as dancing wasn't the only activity being facilitated as he also ran the cheap hotel nearby.

In fact, this could be the Fore Street brothel, Maine Today described, although BDN reports it was Munjoy Hill.

One fateful night a fight broke out between King and some "guests" which escalated to King firing a gunshot to scare the men away, according to the BDN. They ended up returning with a small cannon and fired it into King's house, the article reported, and at this point, King decided it was time to build up his arsenal convinced the men would return. And they did.

The men came heavily armed, not expecting King had prepared for just that. He ended up wounding 14 of them and killed a schooner captain, the newspaper reported. He won the battle but ultimately lost the war.

The next day he and a handful of his workers were arrested and jailed, according to the BDN. Locals took this opportunity to burn down the dance hall.

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Thinkstock David McNew

After this ordeal, the newspaper stated, King packed up and moved. Never to be heard from again.

While some of the details vary from source to source, it's clear that Portland's "Whorehouse Riots" was something straight out of a movie.

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