The Lyman-Neel Residence and its many occupants reflect the ever-changing character of the North Rodney Street neighborhood. Soon after Helena’s first county courthouse opened in 1867, merchants and professionals established Helena’s first fashionable neighborhood along Rodney Street in the “quiet part of town.” Lawyer and U.S. Land Office register Lorenzo Lyman had this Free Classic Queen Anne style home built in 1873. The Lymans lived comfortably, enjoying leaded-glass windows, decorative woodwork, a garden, chickens, and a cow. In 1875, the Lymans sold everything to mercantile owners Samuel and Lavinia Neel. Samuel died suddenly in 1882, and Lavinia moved to California. Seeing opportunity in Helena’s booming population, Lavinia kept the house for rental income. By the early 1890s, the prestigious part of town had moved to the West Side, and this became a boarding house. In 1898, African-American businesswoman Alice Palmer lived downstairs with her mother and five children and rented the upstairs rooms to African-American tenants. Contractor Charles Stabern bought the house in 1901, and it remained a multi-family dwelling until 1927, when Reverend Edwin Klemme returned it to a single-family home. In 1930, associate Montana Supreme Court Justice Sam C. Ford and wife Mary bought the house. When Ford became Montana governor in 1941, the family moved into the governor’s mansion. He rented this house to boarders, resuming residence after his terms ended in 1949. With no children living at home, the Fords lived downstairs, renting out the upstairs rooms. Sam Ford died in 1961, and Mary remained in residence as landlady until her death in 1972.



309 North Rodney Street, Helena, Montana ~ Private