Filed Under Hamiliton

Burns Block

Hamilton Commercial Historic District

Decorative brickwork ornaments this two-story Western Commercial style building constructed for jeweler Frank L. Burns. The Canadian-born Burns came to Hamilton in 1894, four years after the town’s founding. He originally ran his business from a one-story wooden building on this site. But in 1906, a giant steam shovel began excavating the “Big Ditch.” Bitterrooters hoped this irrigation canal would transform their valley into an oasis, and Burns saw an opportunity for expansion. His new fifty-by-seventy-foot building included two storefronts. Occupying one was his jewelry store, which in 1909 stocked “a full line of watches, clocks, diamonds and small jewelry, hand painted china, cut glass, [and] souvenirs” as well as musical instruments and fancy stationery. The other storefront he leased to various businesses, including a Chinese restaurant and a general store. The second floor he left undivided as a hall for “entertainments and dances.” As Hamilton’s first large public hall, it contributed markedly to the community’s social life. In later years, the second floor was reconfigured into apartments.


Burns Block
Burns Block Burns Block (verso unavailable, photo affixed to survey sheet) b&w print Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana Creator: Unidentified photographer Date: [no date]


128-132 West Main Street, Hamiliton, Montana | Public


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Burns Block,” Historic Montana, accessed May 30, 2024,