This painting depicts Annie Chambers, a former brothel owner and prostitute, whose business capitalized on the booming railroad district that brought money, men and modernization to Kansas City at the turn of the century. Born in Lexington, Kentucky as Leannah Loveall, Chambers was forced to forge a life on her own after incurring the wrath of her Confederate father who discovered she had participated in a parade honoring President Lincoln and the subsequent death of her husband and children. Facing the stark reality of being a single woman during the 19th century, Chambers took the only option she could to survive: prostitution. Chambers came to Kansas City in 1870 and opened a small brothel in the red-light district, where the City River Market exists today. In two-years time, Chambers was running one of the region's most elite brothels out of a luxurious 25-room residence and charged her customers $10 when the going rate was only 10 cents. At a time when women were defined only by the men in their lives, Chambers allowed her girls to keep half of what they made; helping them get back on their feet, provide for their children and go on to lead successful, married lives.
Chambers allowed her girls to keep half of what they made; helping them get back on their feet, provide for their children and go on to lead successful, married lives. At the turn of the century, Kansas City went through a series of reforms including the end of the red-light district in 1913. Continuing her commitment to helping young women in more socially acceptable ways, Chambers' brothel became a boarding house.
Annie Chambers died at the age of 92, her life and work a personification of the city and a reflection of the changing times and endless opportunities which Kansas City is still known for today... almost a century later.
Installation of Painting.