Everleigh – Minna and Ada Everleigh – 80s Bianchi Campione D’Italia road bike – Spoken For

Minna and Ada Everleigh were sisters and the operators of the most famous brothel in the world, the Everleigh Club  Very little else about the Everleigh sisters is clear cut, as their own version of their lives is thin on the truth.  The sisters were born Minna and Ada Sims in Virginia, two of seven children, only five of whom survived childhood.  Their father, Montgomery Simms was wealthy, but lost his fortune during the Civil War.  Years later, while traveling with a theater company through Omaha, Nebraska, the sisters would venture on a new career path, and opened their first brothel in Omaha in 1895. 

As part of their more exciting back story, they changed their last names to “Everleigh”, which was a play on the signature from the correspondence of their grandmother, who would end her letters, “Everly Yours”.  In the sisters’ version of their lives, they both came from a well-to-do family, and were afforded the best life, the finest finishing schools, and all of the birthrights of their wealth.  The sisters said they then married a pair of brothers, who abused them, until they left their husbands, became actresses, and eventually, would find their way to the world of brothels and prostitution.

The move to Chicago was an opportunity to try their proven trade at a higher-market.  Indeed, their brothel, the Everleigh Club at 2131 and 2133 S Dearborn Street in the seedy Levee district, was the most opulent and magnificent house of prostitution ever known.  No luxury was denied, and all of the clientele were willing to pay a premium.  From 1900 until 1911, the Everleigh Club was the most famous, well-appointed and successful of the many illicit businesses in the Levee, but was eventually done in, when one of their advertising brochures reached Mayor Carter Harrison Jr, who subsequently ordered the club shut down.  Minna died in New York City in 1948 and Ada in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1960.

Portrait of Ada Everleigh, painted 1895 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Portrait of Minna Everleigh, painted 1895 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Everleigh is the same frame as my first road racing bike from when I was in 7th grade, a Bianchi Campione d’Italia.  This Columbus tubed frame was on the high-end of Bianchi’s steel road bikes in the 1980s and early 1990s.  The frame was in the original Bianchi Celeste green, and had no real problems, dents or rust to speak of.

Powder coating took two attempts.  The name of the color implied that the bike had a green finish with flecks of Orange, but that more describes the overtones of the color, which is actually a deep red, with orange and green highlights.  It is particularly beautifully blended at the lug intersections, where the glazed effect of too much and too little coating melts together nicely.  The purpose of the red paint was to highlight the red-light district of the Levee.

The bike is well-equipped with a full Shimano Ultegra group, including Crankset, brakes, hubs, derailleurs, cassette and STI shifters.  The wheels are built up with DT Swiss stainless spokes onto 32 hole Sun M13 IIs in a 3x pattern with Continental Gator Skin tires.  The bike also had trouble with its bottom bracket, and a subsequent replacement bottom bracket, so it now has a 110 mm Italian threaded Dura-Ace bottom bracket, which seems to be doing quite well. 

The bike was customized for its rider with a shorter quill stem and interrupter brake levers in the traditional cyclocross position. The original Omega headset was cleaned and serviced and still works like a charm. 

Everleigh’s life-long curator is Brian Kennedy, my friend who kindly acted as the sweep on the majority of our bike tours for many years, and only begins to pay him back for all he has done for the tours.

Brian Kennedy and his soon to be complete Everleigh
Brian: Just a little more polishing….