California Wine House

Helena Historic District

Most of Helena’s earliest commercial buildings fell victim to the fires that plagued the gulch. This simple 1860s commercial building, originally a single story of stone construction, was a notable exception, surviving a disastrous conflagration in 1874. Early occupants include the Sands Brothers Dry Goods and William Pruitt’s wholesale liquor business and saloon. Pruitt, in business until the late 1880s, advertised a pure product “scrupulously guarded from adulterations.” August Fack opened his California Wine House here circa 1890. Fack, who also operated a cigar store, remodeled the stone structure, adding a new brick storefront and a second story. His wine house was known for its fine art collection. From 1902 until Prohibition in 1918, the building housed The Old Stand, another well-patronized watering hole. Brothers Herbert and Archie Goodall relocated their longtime assay business in the old saloon during the 1920s after Herbert served a six-year term as Assayer in Charge at Helena’s federal branch. The building’s 1860s stone work is visible at the rear while the 1890s brickwork and columned storefront well represent Helena’s nineteenth-century commercial architecture.

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46 South Last Chance Gulch, Helena, Montana ~ Private