Central Business District, Butte

A catastrophic fire consumed much of Main Street in 1879, removing traces of Butte’s mining camp past and ushering in a new era of masonry and stone construction. In the 1880s, single miners remained the primary customers of the district’s gambling halls, saloons, and brothels. However, the city was maturing, and architect-designed theaters, banks, lodges, and churches soon joined the streetscape. Dozens of commercial blocks incorporated locally manufactured metal cornices and cast-iron facades, and by 1891, even Chinatown boasted substantial brick buildings. By 1896, Butte had become a leading copper producer, and architects consciously designed edifices worthy of the city’s new status as an industrial giant. The War of the Copper Kings caused economic uncertainty and slowed commercial development, but with the victory of Amalgamated Copper Company (later renamed the Anaconda Copper Mining Company), the early twentieth century witnessed construction of some of Butte’s most distinguished buildings. Multistoried apartments like the 1903 Hirbour Tower and the 1906 Metals Bank building, hallmarks of big cities like New York and Chicago, added urban flair, while the 1910 Beaux Arts county courthouse provided another assertion of permanence. Progressive Era attempts to clean up Chinatown and the Red Light district drastically reshaped the district’s southern end. After 1911, automobile garages, showrooms, and service stations replaced deteriorating wooden cribs and Chinese laundries. Butte reached its economic zenith during World War I, and today’s business district still reflects the copper metropolis’s pre-World War I history. Over 100 buildings constructed before 1900 still stand, as do more than another 100 built between 1900 and 1920.

123 North Main Street

Cast-iron pilasters, a metal cornice, interior hardwood paneling and a pressed metal ceiling are reminders of the varied remodelings of this early commercial building, constructed before 1884. In 1895, architect H. M. Patterson remodeled the building…

125 North Main Street

Like its immediate neighbors, this is one of Butte’s earliest substantial buildings. Dating before 1884, it documents various periods of use through a distinct sequence of visible alterations. The ground floor commercial space was originally occupied…

126-134 South Main Street

When this five-storefront corner business was built between 1918 and 1923 for Montana Leather Company owner MacPherson, it stood on the very fringe of respectability. The “female boarding house” that was then immediately next door on Mercury Street…

128-130 West Galena Street

Frank H. Cooney, one of four brothers in the merchandising business in Butte, purchased this lot on the William Penn Quartz Lode for $30 in 1898. As was usual in early Butte real estate deals, the mining company retained ownership of the property…

13 West Broadway

The stone foundation and masonry fabric of this early 1880s commercial building reflect the change to fireproof building materials after 1879, when a catastrophic fire destroyed most of Main Street. In 1884, the two-story building, like many of its…

134 West Broadway

A private ground-floor residence with rooms for rent upstairs was the original function of this 1880s two-story building. Its history provides a fascinating glimpse of life in early-day Butte. Maps of 1888 and 1890 show that a frame open-air porch…

135 East Park

A row of one-story frame shops including a harness maker, two carpenters, a cobbler, a saloon, a bakery, and a millinery filled this block in the 1880s. By 1890, most had been replaced. The present two-story storefront and lodging house replaced a…

303 West Park

Historic maps reveal that this magnificent Renaissance Revival style building had rather humble beginnings. From 1888 to 1900, a one-story frame dwelling with a simple open-air porch spanning the front occupied this site. By 1916 the residence had…

321 West Galena Street

Butte School District #1 constructed this attractive four-story building between 1918 and 1920 to house the high school’s Manual Training Department. The United States Army Recruiting Center was located here during World War II and, later, from 1954…

B'Nai Israel Temple

Butte’s ethnic diversity is well represented in this beautiful synagogue, dedicated in 1904. After the Jewish community split into one reform and two orthodox groups, this temple was built for use by the reform congregation. The three-story masonry…

Butte Buick Company/Schumacher Building

In 1910, Butte had only three automobile-related businesses, one of which also repaired bicycles, typewriters, slot machines, and revolvers. By 1918, auto dealers, repair shops, garages, and tire stores numbered over fifty. “No other town in Montana…

Butte Daily Post Building

Architect Herman Kemna, who began his Butte practice in 1898, designed this attractive corner landmark at the end of his productive career. The two-story building of brick and concrete, constructed in 1922 at a cost of $45,000, features large arched…

Butte Miner Building - Butte Floral Company

The publisher of copper king W.A. Clark’s newspaper, the Butte Miner, used this space as a printing office from 1884. In 1906, Butte florist James King partly demolished the older structure and erected this unique two-story building. The year 1906…

Butte Telephone Company

The end of a long court battle between Amalgamated Copper and renegade mine entrepreneur F. Augustus Heinze in 1906 brought about an unprecedented building boom. The Beaux Arts style, with its grandiose composition and exuberant detail, was the…

Butte Tin Shop

A visiting journalist wrote in the 1890s that this neighborhood was “like a street leading into hell,” and, in 1910, even the passionate bar-smasher Carry Nation failed to make an impression. Here in the sleepless heart of Butte’s red light district,…

Carpenter's Union Hall

Butte’s reputation as the “Gibraltar of Unionism” in the Rocky Mountains was further strengthened with the construction of this finely appointed Renaissance Revival style labor temple, one of the first built in the United States. The Butte…

Casey Block

Multistoried masonry buildings such as this fine 1890 example, designed to meet the high demand for urban retail space and living quarters, reflect the housing shortage during Butte’s copper boom years. A flat roof, decorative brickwork, recessed…

Chequamegon Cafe

Originally a three-story building, this old-timer was constructed circa 1884 as a restaurant and hotel. From 1888 to 1900, the upper floors were the Clarendon Lodging House managed by Anna Parker and later by Sophia Helmstedter and Mary Schmidt. The…

Chester Block

Businessman Charles Steele financed the $4,500 construction costs of this exceptional commercial block, designed by Butte architect James C. Teague, in 1917. The building is architecturally significant for its striking terra cotta ornamentation and…

City Hall, Butte

Butte had over eighty working mines and a teeming population by 1890. The resulting flurry of industrial and commercial activity initiated a building boom, prompting Mayor Henry Mueller to oversee the construction of this handsome three-story…

Original City Hall, Butte

By the early 1880s the railroad linked Butte to the outside world and the town had established itself as a mining camp with a great future. One of the few standing structures from the formative era is this masonry, two-story landmark. Under…

Curtis and Majors Real Estate

Civil War politics prevented young John H. Curtis from practicing law in Missouri since, as a Confederate sympathizer, he could not take the required oath of allegiance. After the war, Curtis booked passage on the steamer Waverly, arriving at Fort…

Curtis Music Hall

Irish-born lawyer and businessman John H. Curtis constructed this lavish four-story Queen Anne style commercial building in 1892. A skillful yet unknown designer combined gables, turrets, arched and keyhole-shaped windows, carved stone, and…

Dumas Hotel

French Canadian brothers Arthur and Joseph Nadeau built this house of prostitution in 1890. Reflecting the architecture of the trade, each room features a door and window so customers could “shop.” In 1900, when Grace McGinnis was madam, the Dumas…

Emanuel Lutheran Church

Immigrants to Butte during the mining boom often lived, socialized, and worshipped with fellow nationals. Swedish Lutherans first congregated in 1896, and in 1901 they built a small wooden chapel on the back of this lot. They quickly outgrew the…

F & W Grand Building

Walter Arnold, architect for the Butte Civic Center, designed this commanding two-story commercial building, which covers a full city block. It replaced four existing businesses and was built to house a branch of the F & W Grand Silver Store, a…

Finberg's Furniture Store

French-Canadian brothers founded the Nadeau Investment Company in the late 1800s and amassed Butte real estate, much of it red-light properties that made the family wealthy. Their holdings at the height of Butte’s tenderloin included the far-famed…

Finlen Hotel

The decade following World War I brought an excess of copper to the world market and Butte suffered a severe economic slowdown. The Finlen Hotel and the Fox Theater were the only two substantial structures built in Butte’s business district during…

First Baptist Church, Butte

In 1882, the Baptists established their first church in Butte. By 1890, membership numbered 65 and steadily grew until, at 450 members in 1905, new quarters were imperative. The following year marked the beginning of an unprecedented commercial…

First National Bank, Butte

Farmer, trader, and grist mill operator Andrew Jackson Davis, reportedly Montana’s first millionaire, founded the First National Bank in partnership with influential politician Samuel T. Hauser in 1877. Upon Davis’ death in 1890, a nephew of the same…

First Presbyterian Church, Butte

While Butte’s personality was taking shape in the form of impressive commercial buildings, the construction of five major churches in little more than two decades added grace and eloquence to the city's demeanor. The Presbyterians, organized in…

Forbis Block

Originally a hotel with ground-floor offices, this three-story masonry building typifies the combination lodging/commercial space demanded by Butte’s growing population. Lawyer James W. Forbis financed construction of the building circa 1889. He and…

Hennessy Building

In little more than a decade, entrepreneur Daniel Hennessy’s mercantile business became Montana’s first and most elegant department store. Minneapolis architect Frederick Kees designed the magnificent 1898 Renaissance Revival style showcase of steel,…

Hirbour Block

Less than a decade after the skyscraper made its debut in Chicago, the new technology of steel frame and curtain wall construction was employed in Butte. This engineering principle, coupled with use of the elevator, allowed the Hirbour Block to tower…

Imperial Block

The changing character of East Park Street is well documented in the history of this rooming house, built as an investment in 1900 by Abraham Wehl. By this time, Butte’s first red light district, located on the block in the 1870s and early 1880s, had…

Independent Order of Good Templars, Butte

Both men and women were admitted to this temperance organization, whose Montana Grand Lodge was organized in 1868. Butte Lodge #14 commissioned architect H. M. Patterson to design this appealing three-story building, completed in 1891, which served…

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Butte

Fraternal organizations were an important facet of most mining towns and helped establish social and civic stability in early communities. Members of Fidelity Lodge #8 constructed this meeting hall, one of the district’s oldest standing buildings, in…

Ionia Cafe

The Gagnon Realty Company constructed a single-story building on this site in 1914, adding the second floor before 1916. Mosaic tiles at the entrance proclaim the business of its early tenant, baker Joseph Boulet, who moved his Iona Cafe and Baking…

Ivanhoe Block

Lawyers Robert McBride and Patrick Talent originally owned this three-story commercial/residential building designed by architect George De Snell. Built in 1905, it was one of several brick buildings that replaced frame stores, liveries, and brothels…

J.L. Morris Building

H. M. Patterson designed this residential building for J. L. Morris in 1898, replacing an earlier dwelling. A year later, Morris commissioned J. A. Riddell to add a storefront to the east at a cost of $9,000. Danish immigrant L. M. Brobeck rented the…

Joseph Richards, Undertaker

Joseph Richards came to Butte in 1892 and established an undertaking parlor in the Stephens Block on West Park. Victorian-era funerals were customarily conducted from the home of the deceased. It was the undertaker’s job to help the family prepare…

Kelly Block

The early 1890s brought an urgent need for more living and street-level commercial space. John F. Kelly commissioned the Butte architectural firm of Freys, Bartlett and McMillan to design this commercial-residential Queen Anne style structure in…

Knights of Columbus, Butte

The Butte chapter of this fraternal organization was founded in 1902 and its present quarters constructed in 1917-18. Architect Wellington Smith designed the three-story Renaissance Revival style building, which features “tapestry” brick from Helena…

Lawlor & Rowe Insurance Company

Graceful arches and a lovely stone balustrade atop a stone cornice make this attractive Georgian Revival style building a perfect companion to the adjacent Water Company Building. Multi-paned windows trimmed in stone and brick, a dentil frieze below…

Len Waters Music

The distinctive façade of this longtime Butte business conceals a building whose varied history extends back to the early 1880s. Originally a grocery warehouse and stationery/variety store, other businesses that operated here include the Montana…

M & M Cigar Store

Sam Martin and William F. Mosby were the first of many proprietors of the legendary saloon, eatery, and gambling house that has operated here since 1890. Although Martin and Mosby’s tenure was short, Butte’s love of nicknames endured and their…

Maley Block

Elaborate details enhance this residential/commercial building, originally of one story, constructed in 1900. Its upper floors were added circa 1910, and the apartments were among the better uptown lodgings. The masonry building has its dual function…

Mantle / Henderson & Bielenberg Building

A graceful semicircular arched entry of rough quarried stone is a striking feature of this three-story commercial/residential building that once housed the publisher of the Butte Miner. Built circa 1890 by pioneer stockman/financier N. J. Bielenberg,…

Mantle Block

Prominent politician Lee Mantle had this impressive four-story masonry building constructed during 1892, the year he was elected mayor of Butte. Architect H. M. Patterson designed the commercial-residential structure, which incorporates a wealth of…

Masonic Temple, Butte

The first Masonic Lodge in Butte was chartered October 3, 1876. With a membership of 550 after the turn of the twentieth century, the organization had outgrown its old quarters on West Park. The new temple, completed in 1902, provides an early…

Masonic Temple Annex / Fox Theatre, Butte

An overabundance of copper on the world market all but halted building activity in Uptown Butte during the 1920s. This splendid, long-established theater is one exception, completed in 1923. Following the example of Butte’s most significant…

Mayer Building

Rapid population growth during the boom years between the 1880s and 1910s necessitated the combination of housing and business space. This three-story masonry building constructed in 1900 on a choice corner lot provided owner Dora Mayer with upper…

Metals Bank Building

The strength of Butte’s early financial community is well represented in this monumental steel, brick, and stone skyscraper completed in 1906. Copper king F. Augustus Heinze financed the $325,000 bank building, incorporating the newest steel-frame…

Miner's Savings Bank & Trust Co.

Butte experienced its second mining boom in the teens before World War I. The Miner’s Bank is indicative of the healthy economy during these years when copper rose to a high of twenty cents a pound. On September 1, 1912, fire claimed the Thomas…

Montana Leather Company

A log barbershop did business at this location in 1884. By 1891, a frame carpenter’s shop occupied the premises, and at the back was an iron-clad corral serving the Oregon Livery next door. By 1900, the livery stable had become the Montana Concert…

Morier Block

A rounded corner and distinctive brick give this commercial/residential combination an unusual appearance. Historic maps reveal that before 1884, a collection of frame dwellings occupied this corner. North Dakota Street was then named Academy because…

Owsley Block

A pair of two-story projecting bays, rounded balconies, and slender columns with ornate bracketing give this former hotel a delightful nineteenth-century charm. Built in 1889 by early settler and former Butte mayor William Owsley, the Owsley Block…

Paumie Block

Maria and Camille Paumie came to Montana from France in 1887. They constructed the west half of this building circa 1890, known as the Parisian House; its furnished rooms were rented out under various proprietors. The bottom floor was the Parisian…

Pekin Noodle Parlor

Butte’s Chinese community settled on this block in the 1880s. Dwellings, club rooms, laundries, restaurants, and stores selling Chinese goods crowded its thoroughfares and alleyways. This business block is a lone survivor displaying Asian roots. G.…

Phoenix Building

Symons Department Store suffered two major setbacks before it moved into this longtime location in 1906. Founded by William and Henry Symons and J. E. and H. E. Oppenheimer in 1897, the original store building collapsed in 1898 during remodeling,…

Pleasant Alley "Venus Alley"

Brick pavement is the only enduring feature of this once-promiscuous alley of national ill repute. By the 1890s, Pleasant Alley and other smaller alleys were the dingy backyards where the less favored women of Butte’s sprawling red light district…

Push Saloon / Silver Dollar Saloon

Butte saloons bragged of their diversity, specialization, and peculiarities. Frenchmen drank white whiskey at the Canadian, and the Scotch were entertained by bagpipes at McGregor’s. Swedes patronized the Scandia Hall and blacks the Silver Tip.…

Rookwood Hotel

James Pratt, proprietor of the Red Boot and Shoe Company, spent $30,000 on the construction of this hotel/rooming house in 1912. The shoe company occupied the ground floor space through the 1930s. Large display windows and a Tudor-arched entry,…

Salvation Army Building

Expansion of the mining industry during the 1880s bred a darker side to Butte’s “get rich quick” appeal. Foreign-born miners poured into Butte, often arriving hungry and homeless. The large immigrant population, combined with families left indigent…

School District #1 Administration Building

William A. O’Brien, architect of the Leonard Apartments and the Kelly and Hennessy mansions, designed this handsome building of brown brick veneer in 1919. In 1920, the offices of District #1 moved from their longtime quarters at Butte High School to…

Silver Bow Club

The elegance of Renaissance Revival-inspired details conveys the extravagance of Butte’s first men’s social club, established in 1882. The prestigious Helena architectural firm of Link and Haire designed the club’s new quarters, completed in 1907,…

Silver Bow County Courthouse

Prestigious architects Link and Haire designed this magnificent four-story courthouse in the Beaux Arts style. This grandiloquent form introduced at Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition was often utilized in American civic buildings. Offices within…

Silver Bow County Jail

The Beaux Arts style building complex comprising the county courthouse and jail serves to firmly anchor Butte’s business district. Montana’s most distinguished architects of the period, Link and Haire, designed both the courthouse and this…

Socialist Hall

Hands and forearms clasped in solidarity symbolize a movement of local and national significance during the first decades of the twentieth century. One of the few socialist meeting halls remaining in the United States, the building is a monument to a…

St. Francis Apartments

An open balcony adds architectural interest to this brick apartment building, constructed circa 1912 by the proprietress of the adjacent Parisian Dye Works, Maria Paumie Rimboud. Madame Rimboud was born in Paris and always spoke French with her…

St. James Hospital Nurses Dormitory

Five Sisters of Charity came to Butte from their motherhouse at Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1881 to found St. James Hospital. The sisters opened a school of nursing in 1906. Under Sister Superior Mary Marcella Reilly, this residential dormitory for…

St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Butte’s early Catholic community built its first parish church, a temporary wooden structure, west of this site in 1879. Father John Dols, the first pastor, arrived in the spring of 1881. The following year the cornerstone for a new church was laid,…

St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal (South) Church

Noted architect William White designed this majestic, multi-gabled church of stone and brick, built at a cost of $10,000 in 1899. Gothic lancet windows, stained glass, Romanesque arches, and wood tracery in the gable windows showcase White’s…

The Concord

Two stories and a daylight basement provided ample room for the many lodgers that lived comfortably in this spacious turn-of-the-twentieth-century rooming house. The building’s first owner, boilermaker Carl M. Swanson, lived here with this wife,…

The Napton

A grand arched entryway topped by a wooden bracketed cornice and ornate iron rail welcomes visitors to the Napton. Because downtown apartment buildings were a hallmark of big cities like New York and Chicago, construction of the Napton Apartments in…

Thomas Block

Radical building improvement on West Park Street during 1913 included the construction of this large retail and business block. The original 1890 Thomas Block had fallen victim to fire the previous year. Butte architect Herman Kemna, who also…

Thomas Lavell Residence

Traveling by stagecoach from Quebec, Canadian-born Thomas Lavell arrived in Deer Lodge in 1874 to join his brother, Geoffrey. The two came to Butte the following year and established a sawmill, providing lumber for the town’s first sawn-wood…

Thornton Block

Beautifully detailed and thoroughly cosmopolitan, this $75,000 five-story hotel opened in 1901 featuring over one hundred rooms, a saloon, restaurant, barber shop, and bowling alley. A cast-iron and glass entrance canopy, stone balconies, Tudor…

Thornton Hotel

The emerging talent of architect H. M. Patterson is evident in this early example of his work, built circa 1890. Named for prominent local resident and Civil War veteran Colonel J. C. C. Thornton (who died in 1887), the stately hotel featured…

Thornton Hotel Addition

Premier Montana architects J. G. Link and C. S. Haire designed this three-story annex in 1906 as an extension of the elegant Thornton Hotel on Broadway. The building was one of the first designed by the two prestigious architects after they had…

Wah Chong Tai Company Building and Mai Wah Noodle Parlors

These two buildings are at the heart of what was Butte’s Chinatown. By 1890, nearly 400 Chinese lived and worked in this area. Chinese businesses—physicians, druggists, tailors, laundries, and restaurants—served the population. The Wah Chong Tai…