Crump/Howard House

Home to four generations of a prominent pioneer African American family, this classic Queen Anne style residence was built in 1889 by James Wesley Crump. James, born free in Missouri, enlisted in the Union Army at seventeen and served with the U.S. Colored Light Artillery Brigade. Mustered out as a corporal, Crump headed for Montana in 1865. At about the same time, eleven-year-old Clarissa, born into slavery and separated from her parents, came to Montana with her owner, Phil Evans. En route, Clarissa learned of Emancipation. James and Clarissa met, married in 1869, and settled in Helena. James hauled freight, acquired mining claims, kept a saloon, and later was janitor and manager of the First National Bank building. As Helena’s small African American community put down roots, the Crumps were civic activists, eloquent spokespersons, and proud Montanans. In 1889, it was James—in his Civil War uniform—who held the flag for the laying of Montana’s Capitol cornerstone. Through difficult times of racial inequality, multiple generations grew up in the Crump household, taught by their elders to walk in the two worlds separated by segregation. Great-grandson Raymond Crump Howard was the last child raised in this home. His father Norman Howard and wife Maxine were in residence here until the home passed out of the family in 1992. Despite extensive mid-century remodeling, sensitive restoration has preserved historic elements including the steeply pitched roof, original wood shingles in the gables, and ornamental stick work. Inside, the six-room floorplan, bullseye moldings, transoms, and built-in dining room cabinet recall the Crumps’ warm hospitality and family’s enduring legacy.


Crump/Howard House
Crump/Howard House facade Source: National Register of Historic Places Creator: Montana State Historical Property Office
Crump House
Crump House Crump/Howard House Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center, Helena Montana, Catalog #PAc 79-53.1 Creator: Unknown Date: c. 1895
Crump/Howard House
Crump/Howard House Clarissa Crump with Granddaughter Source: Roxann Lincoln and Kenneth Philips Creator: Unknown Date: Unknown
Crump/Howard House
Crump/Howard House James Crump with Grandchildren Source: Roxann Lincoln and Kenneth Philips Creator: unknown Date: ca. 1910


1103 9th Avenue, Helena, MT


Montana Historical Society, “Crump/Howard House,” Historic Montana, accessed May 30, 2024,