Charles M. Russell Home and Studio

National Historic Landmark

Beginning in 1900, no place was more closely associated with “Cowboy Artist” Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) than his home and log-cabin studio. Born into a prominent St. Louis family, Russell arrived on the frontier in 1880, just in time to witness its closing. In spite of his late entrance, he spent his career chronicling—through art and story—what he termed “The West That Has Passed,” a rugged, but beloved, landscape inhabited only by cowboys, Indians, cattle, and wildlife. For a time after arriving in Montana Territory, Charlie supported himself by working as a cowboy. Yet even while riding the range, he was never without his watercolors, pencils, or modeling wax. In 1894, Russell quit cowboying to pursue art full-time. Two years later he married Nancy Cooper, gaining not only a wife, but an expert business manager who would play a crucial role in transforming the self-taught artist into a national celebrity. In 1900, the couple built this modest frame house from which Nancy managed the business aspects of Charlie’s career. Three years later, they constructed “a log studio… just a cabin like I [Charlie] used to live in”—only this time it was built of telephone poles. Thereafter, as Nancy noted, “to the end of his life he loved that … building more than any other place on earth and never finished a painting anywhere else.” Today the house and studio stand as memorials to Montana’s favorite son who epitomized, for both his contemporaries and for future generations, the spirit of the mythic West.


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1217-1219 Fourth Avenue North, Great Falls, MT