House of Ill Repute Raided in Prineville – 1952

Main Street Prineville 1959

Surprise raid at the Inland Rooms in Prineville

By Steve Lent, Historian

The Prineville police department, led by Chief Oliver Reeve, carried out a surprise raid at the Inland Rooms in Prineville in September 1952. The Friday night raid resulted in the arrest of four person, three women and one man. The arrested parties were charged with disorderly conduct in a house of ill repute. The three women were from Portland and ranged in age from 23 to 40. The gentleman arrested was also from Portland.

One of the women arrested was Fern Lang, who was part owner of the rooming house. She was charged with operating a house of ill repute. They were released on bail bond of $100 each, which was forfeited when all parties failed to appear to answer the charges. The raid was the result of a visit earlier in the week to the establishment by the Chief of Police.

An informant had reported the possibility of an illicit operation to the police and the Chief warned the proprietor to refrain from operating a business of immoral nature. Fern Lang, the proprietor assured him that his orders would be carried out. Evidently the operation was too profitable to cease business. Police began to collect evidence that could lead to a conviction and staked out the rooming house. It seems that the rooms were rented by the hour. A week long investigation finally led the police to decide to raid the premises.

The raid netted an arrest of the out of town “boarders” and it was stated that all of the perpetrators in connection with the operation of the place of immoral character were arrested. Evidently the “perpetrators” chose to lose profits in the form of forfeited bail rather than appear in court for the charges.

Although only out of town people were arrested it seems that it would be difficult to operate a business of pleasure without a local clientele to make it profitable. One can only wonder who the police stakeout may have observed taking advantage of the charms of the illicit business venture. This was not the first nor the last operation of this nature to operate in Prineville.