Eliza Quirk House
72 Sycamore Street
The Eliza Quirk House was a pre-Civil War boarding house designed and constructed circa 1848 for its original owner, Eliza Quirk, a well-known courtesan, who occupied the building until her death in 1868. The structure is a simple, red brick vernacular double rowhouse, a typical pre-Civil War design for urban residential buildings. While the architect is unknown, the boarding house appears to have been built as both Ms. Quirk’s primary residence and a boarding house with likely additional use as a brothel throughout this period. As a site of local sex work, it pro- vides a rare glimpse into the entrepreneurial strategies that women undertook to secure financial independence in the city’s early history. The Quirk house is one of the few remaining intact boarding houses and pre-Civil War buildings in down- town. Currently located within the Impact Zone of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, its preservation is seen as an important component of continuing revitalization efforts in this area, which is now occupied by predominantly African American residents.