Samuel Lewis settled in Bozeman in 1868, joining a small but growing population of African Americans who came to Montana after the Civil War. Lewis, a native of the West Indies, was a skilled barber, an expert sleight-of-hand performer, and a first-class musician. He established a thriving tonsorial parlor and bath house on Main Street that he kept in “apple pie order.” Wisely investing his business profits, Lewis constructed several rental properties; two still stand at 209 and 211 South Tracy Avenue. Lewis shared his success with his younger sister, Edmonia, financing her studies in the East and abroad. Highly acclaimed as one of the most gifted African American sculptors of the nineteenth century, Edmonia’s work was displayed at the 1894 Chicago Exposition. In 1881, the wealthy barber built a simple frame gable-front-and-wings house on this site. Eight years later, Lewis transformed his modest home into a fine Queen Anne style showplace. Brick veneer, lovely stained glass, and exuberant Eastlake ornamentation, including heavy carved brackets, abacus-like spindlework, and a sunburst appliqué, highlight the dramatic makeover and reveal a high level of architectural sophistication. The equally grand and beautifully maintained interior features a frescoed parlor ceiling, tin ceiling in the kitchen, and ornate woodwork. Completed in 1890, the Lewis residence was considered one of Bozeman’s “most delightful homes.” When Lewis died in 1896, he left an estate valued at $25,000. It was a well-deserved fortune, likely unparalleled by other contemporary African American Montanans.

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308 South Bozeman Avenue, Bozeman, Montana ~ Private