Downtown OKC once played home to brothels

If she wasn’t the first to run a whorehouse in Oklahoma City, Big Anne was certainly one of the most successful.

She was a shrewd businesswoman who controlled and colluded with the city’s thieves, gamblers, drunkards, prostitutes and shady dealmakers.

Big Anne was also popular with important businessmen and civic leaders, and her fat pocketbook easily earned her favors with both clerks and politicians, ensuring that bond money and court testimony were hastily available when she ran into the law.

Her two brothels were both in downtown OKC ” one in an area dubbed “Hell’s Half Acre” by civic leader and former city manager Albert L. McRill. The “arrogant underworld,” as he called it, once filled with “gamblers, prostitutes and hordes of toughs,” is gone ” replaced by swanky hotels, convention centers and Bricktown bars.

McRill catalogued this colorful history in his 1955 book, “And Satan Came Also,” hoping his effort would save the city from vice and crime.

The first brothel Big Anne ran was at the corner of N. Walker Avenue and W. Second Street, or what is now Robert S. Kerr Avenue, several blocks northwest of Hell’s Half Acre.

Largely located where the Cox Convention Center now resides, the area was filled with saloons, brothels and gambling parlors. Some disreputable dives sat close to where the Sheraton and Renaissance hotels are today.

Robert S. Kerr Avenue was known as “Harlots’ Lane,” and the land that is now occupied by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, a Bank of America and office suite, once hosting dens of sin. “Joe Wertz

Joe Wertz

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