Filed Under Helena

Gilpatrick/Root House

The steamboat Alone brought Stephen Gilpatrick to Montana on the cusp of the 1863 gold rush to Alder Gulch. When mining proved a disappointment, Gilpatrick moved on to Last Chance where he and a partner established the camp’s first stationery store. Marriage in 1867 to Luella Fergus, daughter of well-known pioneer James Fergus, brought the newlyweds to live in a miner’s cabin. Known today as the Pioneer Cabin, it is Helena’s oldest documented dwelling. In 1875, the Gilpatricks built this home, originally a simple brick cottage with gingerbread trim. It was one of the first in the neighborhood, and friends protested that the Gilpatricks were “moving to the country” to build so far from town. The couple raised four sons and Stephen’s community service included terms as a commissioner during Helena’s incorporation, county sheriff, county assessor, and school board chairman. In 1902, the Gilpatricks held the funeral of James Fergus, first president of the Society of Montana Pioneers, in this home. On New Year’s Day 1931, the couple celebrated their sixty-fourth wedding anniversary. Their fabled romance ended with Luella’s death in February. Stephen sold the property to Swedish immigrant John Root and his wife, Jennie. John, like the Gilpatricks, was an early-day Helena resident who ran a successful confectionery and clothing store. Many a prospector had Root to thank for his “grubstake.” The Roots remodeled the Gilpatricks’ Victorian-era home into a stylish Cotswold cottage. Although its original footprint, roofline, and window placements remain intact, the updated style reflects architectural trends of the twentieth century.

Images

Gilpatrick/Root House Gilpatrick/Root House. Front view of the house, facing west on Dearborn Avenue near the corner of Dearborn and Power Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: July 2004
Gilpatrick/Root House Gilpatrick/Root House. Side/rear view of the house, facing northeast from the sidewalk on Power Street near the corner of Dearborn Avenue and Power. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: July 2004
Gilpatrick/Root House Gilpatrick/Root House. Front/side view of the house, facing west to northwest from the corner of Dearborn Avenue and Power Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: ca. 1890's
Gilpatrick/Root House Gilpatrick/Root. Front view of the house, facing west on Dearborn Avenue near the intersection of Dearborn and Power Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown
Gilpatrick/Root House Gilpatrick/Root House. Side view of the house, facing north on Power Street near the intersection of Power and Dearborn Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown
Gilpatrick/Root House Gilpatrick/Root House. Side/rear view of the house, facing north to northeast from the sidewalk on Power Street near the intersection of Power and Dearborn Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown

Location

604 Dearborn Avenue, Helena, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Gilpatrick/Root House,” Historic Montana, accessed December 7, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/804.