City Bakery

Virginia City Historic District

When Charles and Sue Bovey decided to turn Virginia City into a premiere tourist destination in the 1940s, the building that originally stood here was in ruins. The Boveys hired mason Chris Christensen to rebuild the structure’s front wall from the original stone. Christensen did not, however, cover the rubble stone with stucco, a technique used on the original building in 1863 to mimic quarried stone. The rustic false front also reflects the Boveys’ vision of what a Wild West town should look like, not what was actually here in the 1860s. In 1865, J. Oliver’s City Bakery occupied the site. Oliver wholesaled and retailed crackers, “Bread of the best quality and Pies in variety.” He also sold liquor and cigars and provided patrons with “good music” and a “commodious Saloon,” making this establishment more than a bakery. By 1884, a Chinese washhouse operated from the site, and an abundance of Chinese artifacts were found during the 1940s reconstruction. Many Chinese immigrants opened laundries. The business required no training and little capital but provided a much-needed service, especially in mining camps dominated by single men.

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513 West Wallace Street, Virginia City, Montana ~ Public