439 Connell Avenue
University Area Historic District
Low-pitched gables, large sheltering eaves with decorative braces, and an inviting front porch supported by “battered” piers mark this circa 1916 residence as a Craftsman style home. Irene Risley, married to railroad supply salesman Dalton Risley, is the first known owner. While Irene was one of many women who owned property in Montana in the early twentieth century, female property ownership was not a straightforward reflection of women’s economic power. Under certain circumstances, married women’s property was protected from their husbands’ creditors, and families used this fact to protect their assets. When the Ripleys moved into this substantial, corner residence, they joined an elite, well-situated suburb. Three blocks to their west was the neighborhood's centerpiece, the luxurious Bonner Mansion (since demolished). Two blocks to their east was the university. By 1930, the Risleys had moved on. The house, then valued at $6,200 (approximately $81,000 in 2010 dollars) became home to train master Jacob Smith, his wife Ida, and their two children: Herbert and Rhea. Twenty-two-year-old Herbert worked installing telephones, while twenty-eight-year-old Rhea was a comptometer operator (a comptometer was an early type of business calculator).