Filed Under Bozeman

Hamill Apartments

Contractor Henry Hamill partnered with Bozeman architect Fred Willson on many projects, so when he decided to invest in an apartment building, he naturally turned to Willson for the design. The result is this outstanding example of the Art Deco style, one of only four extant Art Deco buildings in Bozeman, all of which were designed by Willson. Introduced to America at a Paris exposition in 1925, Art Deco rejected historical references. The new modern style stressed strong geometric patterns, which were either sharply angular or curvilinear, but never both. This fourteen-unit building expresses the style through its use of modern material—including chrome and concrete—and through bold lines accenting the smooth façade. Art Deco design elements include strong, vertical channels on all three bays; diagonally scored pilasters; zigzag designs over the front windows; chevron patterns repeated on the door, the grill over the transom, and in ironwork bordering the basement steps; and the light fixtures flanking the front entrance. Hamill constructed the apartment building, where he lived with sons Henry and Norman, in 1931. Despite the Great Depression, it was a good investment. Between 1930 and 1940, Bozeman’s population grew from 6,855 to 8,665 as high unemployment increased college enrollment and the city became the administrative center for New Deal programs targeting farmers. With only one vacant unit in 1933, the Hamill Apartments housed students, salesmen, and Main Street business owners. In a nod to superstition, the fourteen apartments were numbered one through fifteen, so no one would have to live in Apartment 13.

Images

Hamill Apartments Hamill Apartments. Front view of the building, facing north on East Main Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Patricia Bick Date: Apr. 1987

Location

427 East Main Street, Bozeman, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Hamill Apartments,” Historic Montana, accessed February 1, 2023, https://historicmt.org/items/show/587.