Filed Under Helena

Porter Flats Apartments

The Northern Pacific finally extended its tracks to Helena in 1883, and the town became increasingly cosmopolitan. Pioneer real estate developer James Porter constructed this very stylish apartment building in 1884, the first of many multifamily dwellings built to accommodate a rapidly growing population. The building demonstrates the construction techniques used and the high quality achieved in the bustling, booming Helena of the 1880s. Twin bays, a central entry, wide eaves, and hipped rooflines reflect the Italianate style while a well-crafted stone foundation, red brick veneer, and tall arched windows mirror local contemporary commercial construction. Fancy floral-designed vergeboards that originally adorned the gables, ornately carved window heads, and decorative brackets reflect the growing availability of prefabricated building materials. The well-appointed building allowed fashionable yet affordable living, with each of the six units boasting a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, and dining room. Interior elegance remains today in the decorative newel post, balusters, and carved trim with corner rosettes. First tenants included a doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a mining superintendent, and the five Misses Nagel, whose “private dining room … in Porter’s Flat” was one of Helena’s favorite eating establishments. Severely damaged during the 1935 earthquakes and condemned in 1988, Porter Flats was rehabilitated between 1989 and 1991 by its new owner. Today this neighborhood treasure is an integral thread in the historic fabric of early Helena.


Porter Flats Apartments
Porter Flats Apartments Porter Flats Apartments (PAc 91-51 South Central Helena Roll05 F45). Front to side view of the building, facing east on North Ewing Street near 7th Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: 1981


335 North Ewing Street, Helena, Montana | Private


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Porter Flats Apartments,” Historic Montana, accessed May 30, 2024,