Montana Picture Gallery

Virginia City Historic District

Charles and Sue Bovey began preserving and reconstructing Virginia and Nevada Cities in the mid-1940s. Often, they relocated entire buildings from elsewhere, recreating streetscapes to reflect territorial days. Early fire insurance maps show that W. P. Armstrong ran a clothing store at this location from 1865 to 1883. Following Armstrong, the building hosted numerous commercial and residential uses, stood vacant, and disappeared around 1920 as the area’s mining economy and population shrank. The Boveys transplanted this historic building in 1948. Such one-story false-front commercial buildings once commonly lined the streets of Montana’s early settlements; relatively few survive. The building’s sidewalls are log, and only the façade bears stylistic features. The flat-finished engaged columns that frame the storefront reflect limitations in frontier-era wood milling capabilities but still project civilized respectability on the business and its customers. The multi-pane storefront windows allowed light into the deep, narrow building. The small panes recall the time when each piece of glass, packed in sawdust, traveled by ox cart over bumpy roads from Fort Benton or Salt Lake City, a trip no plate-glass window could survive.



318 West Wallace Street, Virginia City, Montana ~ Public