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Esthetician Hannah Dollahite gives Mariah Frey a facial at Pearl’s Place Day Spa in Cripple Creek. Spa owner Laura Smith watches, dressed in vintage clothing — as if Pearl de Vere herself was looking on.

“You feel good walking in, but even better when you leave,” describes the feeling of patrons of the new Pearl’s Place Day Spa in Cripple Creek.

The spa is named after Pearl de Vere, the infamous prostitute and madam of Cripple Creek. Not long after Bob Womack struck gold in 1890, Cripple Creek sprang up overnight and all kinds of people came seeking fortune. De Vere came to Cripple Creek around 1893 and began working as a prostitute. Within months, the “Soiled Dove” of Cripple Creek had her own brothel and several girls in her employ. She catered to the most prosperous men in Cripple Creek, and her brothel, The Old Homestead, soon became the most successful in town.

She was well known for wearing lavish clothing in public, and for never being seen twice in the same clothes.

De Vere died June 5, 1897, and the townspeople gave her a lavish funeral paid for by many contributors. She was laid to rest in Mount Pisgah Cemetery with a wooden marker that was later replaced with a marble stone.

“Although our spa is named after the infamous Pearl de Vere, we do not offer the same type of services she offered back then,” said Pearl’s Place owner Laura Smith. “Instead, we are honored to carry on her legacy of helping women to look and feel exquisite.”

She added, “We offer beauty services that include full-service hair salon, luxury nails services, collagen-inducing red-light therapy tanning, and beautifying skin services that roll back the hands of time.”

Smith grew up in California, but after a visit to her Teller County-dwelling sister, she moved to Florissant within two months. She married Robert Smith in 2013, and they opened Cripple Creek Automotive Tire and Towing. Later, they added Smitty’s Used Car and Truck Sales. Laura began selling Mary Kay Cosmetics, and after about a year became very passionate about skin care and studied to become a licensed esthetician — someone who specializes in the beautification of the skin.

Smith met Hannah Dollahite while attending esthetician school, where Smith describes her as a “rock star.” Smith brought the licensed esthetician on board to help serve clients and pitch in with the day-to-day operation of the spa. Dollahite is originally from Canby, Oregon and lives with her husband, who is stationed at Fort Carson.

Another employee is Mariah Frey, who was a friend of Smith’s stepdaughter, Audrey, growing up. Frey was reintroduced to Smith after Audrey informed her that Frey was a 2017 graduate of Paul Mitchell’s esthetics program. Once they reconnected, Smith knew Frey would be a perfect addition to the team.

Heidi Kessler, who has owned The Salon Hair Studio of Woodland Park for nine years, has come on board to help Smith get the spa up and running.

Phase one of the spa is complete and includes two heated beds in the skin treatment room and a full-service hairstyling area that can accommodate four patrons. Phase two is in progress and will include two private massage rooms and pedicure and manicure stations. Phase two is expected to be complete by Dec. 1.

Smith said she is confident in the people she has assembled, but could use another licensed nail tech and a barber to complete her team.

Smith’s motto for her business, as found on its website, pearlsplacedayspa.com, “If you are wanting to relax, unwind, pamper yourself, look and feel amazing, come on over and discover for yourself the spirit of Pearl de Vere.”

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