Mary Harding House

Virginia City Historic District

Square hewn log walls combined with drop siding recall the important transition from a gold camp to a settled town and the accompanying desire for attractive, less rustic, permanent housing. The interior of this mid-1870s two-story residence survives with its original floorplan and finishing intact. The steep pitch of the roof earned the house the nickname “Lightning Splitter.” David Keneally, a devout Irish Catholic, built the residence as a rental while the Catholic complex across the street—church, hospital, and sisters’ convent—grew to serve the community. The home’s construction date suggests that Father Frank Kelleher, the parish priest in residence at Virginia City until 1883, may have been Keneally’s first tenant. In 1894, Irish-born widow Mary Harding bought the property from Keneally; he was her husband’s uncle and estate executor. Mary kept house here until her death in 1928. Subsequent owners/landlords included Henry W. Buford, the McGovern sisters, and Charles Bovey. The home’s respectable owners throughout its history cast doubt on rumors that the house functioned as a brothel. Lightning Splitter, included in the Bovey holdings, is now under state ownership.

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Jackson Street, Virginia City, Montana ~ Private