Inter Ocean Hotel
Butte National Historic Landmark District
Originally built by Ben Johnson in 1881 as a one-story hotel convenient to Montana Union Railway brakemen, firemen, engineers, and conductors, this residence ballooned in stages with the addition of a basement, upper floors, kitchen, and back rooms. Annie Boland was proprietress in 1885. By 1911, Chris Wolffs advertised furnished rooms. Wolffs’s widow, Annie, operated a grocery, confectionery, and rooming house here until her death in 1929. Her daughter Anna Stopher Berkley provided a midwife service—perhaps for unwed mothers—and ran the boarding house. Anna’s son Russell took over the longtime family business in 1952, and with his wife, Alma, offered furnished rooms until the mid-1980s. Recent renovations have produced some surprising hints at a colorful past. New owners discovered women’s Depression-era skull-cap hats stuffed in walls as insulation, 1920s silver coins buried in the basement, hand-painted Hennessy’s streetcar placards used as kitchen walls, candy jars concealed in crawlspaces, and hotel guest registers. Excavation of a rear cesspool yielded a Model A Ford and a turn-of-the-century handgun.