Filed Under Helena

North Rodney Street Neighborhood / Courthouse Square

Helena Historic District

As the gold camp at Last Chance Gulch haphazardly spread out around the placer diggings in the mid-1860s, Helena’s original townsite was platted. By 1867, a new county courthouse graced the central square here in Scott’s Addition, but only a few cabins and frame businesses dotted this quiet part of town. Between 1868 and 1874, fires scourged the commercial district along the gulch, stimulating development around Courthouse Square as residents and businessmen sought safer ground. Area businesses in the 1870s included a hotel, gunsmith, meat market, lumberyard, and three livery stables. The Northern Pacific Railroad linked Helena to national markets in 1883, reinforcing prosperous Rodney Street businesses, and substantial brick-fronted buildings began to replace frame and log constructions. The economic “Silver Panic” of 1893 halted early expansion, but by then the area boasted a new courthouse (completed in 1887) and several multifamily apartment buildings, rooming houses, modest homes, and a few grander residences in a variety of popular architectural styles. Helena’s once-vibrant Jewish community, which helped stabilize the town’s fragile economy through ties to eastern financiers, was well represented in the neighborhood. As the district weathered Helena’s “boom and bust” cycles, it also withstood natural disaster. Exterior stucco and replacement siding to repair damaged brick walls, reconstructed chimneys, and removal of fallen ornamentation recall the 1935 earthquakes and residents’ efforts to rebuild their neighborhood.

Images

North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square. Overview of North Rodney Street looking southeast towards the 200 block of North Rodney on the corner of North Rodney and 6th Avenue. The Governor Leslie House is on the corner to the left and 203 North Rodney is roughly four or five buildings up the block. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square. Overview of the 300 block of North Rodney Street looking north to northeast near the intersection of North Rodney and 6th Avenue. The Francis and Hannah Pope House is featured as the first house on the right in the photograph. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square. Overview of the 200 block of North Rodney Street looking south to southwest on the corner of North Rodney and 6th Avenue with the Governor Leslie House to the immediate left in the photograph and the Kenck & Company Saloon/King & Nuss Grocers building (Jester's Bar) two buildings to the right in the photograph. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square North Rodney Street Neighborhood/Courthouse Square. Overview of the 300 block of North Rodney Street facing north to northwest near the intersection of North Rodney and 6th Avenue. The Morris Silverman House is featured near the middle of the photograph. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020

Location

North Rodney Street, 5th and 6th Avenue, Helena, Montana | Private/Public

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “North Rodney Street Neighborhood / Courthouse Square,” Historic Montana, accessed November 28, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/730.