Cast concrete block was an exciting new technology when this eclectic style home was built circa 1909. While critics labeled concrete block “cheap and vulgar,” builders and homeowners embraced the twentieth-century material as a “substantial and beautiful substitute for stone.” Made with a hand-operated press, the durable, affordable, and simple-to-produce material was virtually unheard of in 1900. By 1906, however, promoters estimated that over a thousand companies had expanded into concrete block manufacturing, satisfying customer demand for ornamental surfaces at a reasonable price. In Bozeman, J. M. Lindley advertised his business as real estate and mortgage loans in 1903; by 1910 he had added “concrete block manufacturer” to his advertisements. The only manufacturer in Bozeman, his firm likely provided the blocks to construct this one-and-one-half-story residence, built on a prominent corner lot. A triple window with a wooden half circle above the center window accents the front gable, while the complicated roofline and decorative shingles in the gable ends add visual interest. James and Eva Harris resided here with daughter Vera from 1910 into the 1930s. An active clubwoman and churchwoman, Eva was a member of the Pythian Sisters, Neighbors of Woodcraft, Order of the Eastern Star, the Housekeepers club, and the Christian Church. Known as “Harris the shoe man,” James arrived in Montana in 1880. In 1910, he owned J. Harris and Co., which advertised itself as “the Exclusive Shoe Store.” Active in local politics, he served on the school board before becoming county treasurer in 1916 and then county clerk and recorder from 1920 through 1932.

Images

Harris House
Harris House Harris House. Front to side view of the house, facing south to southwest near the intersection of West Mendenhall Street and North 5th Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Patricia Bick Date: April 1987

Location

502 West Mendenhall Street, Bozeman, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Harris House,” Historic Montana, accessed March 5, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/588.