Centerville Neighborhood, Butte

Tightly clustered wooden houses built into the steep slopes of the Butte Hill characterize Centerville. Mostly constructed before 1900, the small Queen Anne cottages, hipped-roof workers’ houses, and vernacular gable-roof homes primarily sheltered immigrant miners and their families. Head frames surrounded Centerville on all sides, and mining supported over three-quarters of the residents. Most homeowners leased the land upon which their houses sat from the Anaconda Company, which retained the right to reclaim the property to expand its mines. During the historic era, Centerville remained outside the city limits. As a result, the neighborhood also lacked city fire protection and street maintenance, further impeding development. Nevertheless, vibrant, ethnic strongholds developed, with cultural and occupational ties creating tightly knit communities amidst the industrial landscape. The neighborhood’s large Cornish population worshipped at Trinity Methodist Church (still extant) and gathered at the Sons of St. George Hall, now gone except its foundation. Cornish miners found work in copper king William A. Clark’s mines, among them the Mountain View, also known as the “Saffron Bun” for the large number of Cornishmen employed there. Centerville’s Irish immigrants also worked in nearby mines, like the legendary mile deep Mountain Con owned by Clark’s Irish rival, Marcus Daly. They fraternized at the Ancient Order of Hibernian Hall, formerly a block from the Sons of St. George. Local children attended the since demolished Adams School, Butte’s first public school. While the extensive collection of commercial and fraternal buildings that once lined Main Street are now gone, the many working-class residences continue to reflect the neighborhood’s rich history.

105 West Center

William and Ellen Burt owned this L-shaped residence free and clear in 1920, but not the ground upon which it sat. As with many Centerville homes, the Anaconda Company kept ownership of the land, retaining the right to extract or explore for ore “in,…

107 West Center Street

A gable-topped polygonal bay and small porch add charm to this brick hip-roofed cottage. Built in 1912, it was home to English (undoubtedly Cornish) miner Edward Dower and his wife Clara in the 1910s. The Gilmore family occupied the house by 1923,…

125 East Center Street

Approximately 77 percent of Centerville’s male residents worked in the mines, and William Berryman, who owned this one-story, wood-frame, hipped-roof cottage, was no exception. One of the more common house types in Centerville, these four-square…

Clark Duplex

H. M. Patterson, Butte’s most gifted architect, designed four identical duplexes along this block in 1899 for William A. Clark, Jr., the son of copper king W. A. Clark. Two other duplexes around the corners on Silver and Mercury were also designed by…

167 West Pacific

Outlying settlements like Centerville sprang up so that miners could live near their work. Perched on the slope, Centerville’s steep streets witnessed many a wild winter bobsled ride down the long hill. A clanging bell cleared the way of horse-drawn…

726 North Montana

Dubbed “the largest, busiest, and richest mining camp in the world today” in an 1885 magazine feature, Butte grew quickly from 3,300 residents in 1880 to over 10,000 in 1890. Among the miners flocking to Butte was Joseph Dillon, who immigrated to the…

801 North Montana

Members of the intertwined Sullivan and Hogan families shared this two-story residence as early as 1895. The early, wood-frame home originally had a small porch to the north of the large bay window; the full-length front porch was added between 1901…

820 North Main

Built into the hill, so that the second story is level with the ground, this two-and-one-half-story structure dominates the block. By 1900 the first floor housed a saloon and billiards parlor as well as a small residence. The second floor also served…

Trinity Methodist Church

Thousands of skilled miners from Cornwall, England, immigrated to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century as English tin and copper mines played out. Many settled in Butte’s working-class communities. Centerville was home to equal numbers of…