Filed Under Helena

Christmas Gift Evans House

John B. Sanford was born on a farm in Maine to Quaker parents. His father, then retired, had been captain of a whaling vessel. Sanford came to Montana in 1864 at the age of 29. On the journey west he formed a partnership with 24-year old Christmas Gift Evans, a native New Yorker whose unusual name was derived from the day of his birth. The two came to Helena in 1865 where they established the area’s first water-powered sawmill. Their highly successful business as dealers of hay, grain, flour, lumber, coal, and heavy farming equipment was located at the corner of Fuller and Lawrence Streets and operated well into the twentieth century. Sanford built this splendid home circa 1877 for his bride, Eva. By 1883, Sanford had moved to another residence nearby and Evans, known to his friends as “Chris,” had purchased the property. Evan’s first wife, Margaret, died in 1894. The second Mrs. Evans was said to have been a charming hostess, presiding “with a natural grace over their beautiful home.” Evans died here suddenly in 1915 following surgical amputation of his right leg, performed to treat cellular edema. He was 75. Mrs. Evans died at 83 in 1940, and her daughter and son-in-law continued to live in the home until the late 1970s. The home is a grand expression of the flamboyant Second Empire style, whose brief popularity during the 1870s coincided with the construction of Helena’s first substantial residences. The bell-cast mansard roof, decorative bracketing, and exquisite ornamental iron cresting are noteworthy features of this beautiful, exceptionally well-preserved home.

Images

Christmas Gift Evans House
Christmas Gift Evans House Christmas Gift Evans House. Front to side view of the house, facing northwest on the corner of North Benton Avenue and Lawrence Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
Christmas Gift Evans House
Christmas Gift Evans House Christmas Gift Evans House. Front view of the house, facing west on North Benton Avenue near the intersection of North Benton and Lawrence Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020

Location

404 North Benton, Helena, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Christmas Gift Evans House,” Historic Montana, accessed May 30, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/801.