Millette House

Hamilton Southside Residential Historic District

Congress created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and FHA loans in 1934—at the height of the Great Depression—to finance and produce small homes that the average working American could afford. In addition to offering insured long-term, low-interest mortgages, the FHA also published its first “Principles of Planning Small Houses” bulletin in 1936. Private house-plan publishers jumped on board, and by 1949 more than seven million Minimal Traditional style homes like this one were built across the United States. Sophye Millette hired contractor John Peterson to build this tasteful home in 1939. The exterior brick chimney (marked with her last initial) and six-over-six-light wood windows are stylistic hallmarks. Millette, widowed at age twenty-seven, had raised her son Louis, Jr. at her parents’ house nearby and was chief operator at Mountain States Telephone by 1930. While many professional women held jobs in nursing and teaching, telephone operators also made a living wage. In 1939, Millette made $1,000 a year, the same amount as her brother Andrew, a laborer at Montana Power and her housemate throughout the 1940s. She remained in residence until 1964.

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500 South Fifth Street, Hamilton, MT ~ private