Samuel Dempster House
Helena Historic District
Small dwellings along this stretch of West Main Street housed miners and other boarders from the mid-1860s. The first plat of the Helena townsite, drawn in 1868, designated this former mining claim Block Number 1. Scottish immigrant Samuel Dempster may have been the home’s first occupant. In 1881, Gertrude Weggenman purchased the property. She and her husband Joseph, a blacksmith at Blackfoot City, moved here. Joseph died of consumption in 1883 leaving Gertrude with six children. She married Samuel Dempster in 1885. The Dempsters moved next door to 488 West Main in 1890 while Gertrude’s two older children, Joseph and Mathilda Weggenman, continued to live at this address. Like most of its neighbors, the modest dwelling is built into the hillside. At the back of the property there is an entrance to the original mine and a root cellar that provided even temperatures year round for food storage. The 1860s two-room north portion, built of rubblestone, features the original door, a porch with chamfered posts, and wood-framed windows. The south wing was added by 1888, probably to accommodate the large Weggenman-Dempster family.