South Central Neighborhood, Butte


Discovery of rich silver deposits at the Travona, whose head frame still stands at the district’s west end, sparked Butte’s 1870s hard-rock mining boom. Most South Central buildings date from the 1880s and 1890s, after copper had supplanted silver as Butte’s economic engine. The Travona and nearby Emma Mine, now a city park, were also mined for zinc and manganese through World War II. Of the almost 500 houses still standing in this primarily residential neighborhood, over half were built before 1900 and almost a tenth were built before 1891. The earliest homes, clustered around Main Street near the central business district, are shotgun houses or simple worker’s cottages. Queen Anne style ornamentation—including bay windows, turned porch supports and mass-produced decorative details—embellish many of the district’s pre-1900 homes. Brick duplexes, built after the turn of the twentieth century, served the city’s growing population, as did the district’s four apartment buildings—including the highly decorated four-story Tripp and Dragstedt, built in 1916. The neighborhood’s diverse population worked as clerks, carpenters, teamsters, blacksmiths, lawyers, and architects as well as in the mines. Most residents congregated at meeting halls and churches in the nearby Central Business District, but this neighborhood did boast cultural institutions that appropriately reflected its heterogeneous population: the 1898 Scandia Hall (home of the Scandinavian Brotherhood), the African Methodist Episcopal Church (where Butte’s African American residents gathered), the 1897 Seventh Day Adventist Church (purchased by the Welsh Presbyterians in 1902), and the Jewish Temple Adath Israel (since demolished).

643 South Main Street

“Ores, mineral and mining rights reserved” stated the title abstract when contractor C. C. Goddard purchased this lot for $1,200 in 1897. Goddard, who lived next door, likely built this two-story brick home, which stood on the lot by 1900. The…

645-652 South Main

John Rafferty constructed this five-family flat between 1901 and 1915. A plasterer by trade, he saw Butte’s building boom firsthand and knew that rental properties were in high demand. The two-story walkup has brick arches over the windows and raised…

655 and 655 1/2 South Main Street

The small hipped roof cottage to the rear of the lot predates the more elaborate brick residence that stands closest to the street. Built after 1891, the rear residence was home to carpenter Tolman Barnhart in 1898. Saloon keeper and Irish immigrant…

668 South Main Street

South Butte was home to miners, small businessmen, and workers who rented and owned the district’s modest dwellings. This one-story Queen Anne cottage, built circa 1897 with a front entrance and bay, well represents the late-Victorian period housing…

Hawley Residence

Charles and Anna Hawley arrived in Montana Territory before 1873, when Butte was still a silver camp. By 1880 the couple and their four children lived in a log dwelling on this lot. They lived there still in 1900, taking water from their own well and…

Scandia Hall

The Scandinavian Brotherhood, organized at the Silver Bow County courthouse in 1889, endeavored to unify Scandinavians through fellowship, promote high standards of citizenship, and “fulfill a vacancy in the social world.” Butte No. 1, the mother…

Tripp & Dragstedt Apartments

The Butte Miner declared this “the largest apartment house between St. Paul and Spokane” when it opened in 1916. The $80,000 building, constructed by Charles C. Goddard, included forty apartments around a U-shaped plan. Each unit was designed so that…

William Hardcastle Residence

Contractors William A. O’Brien and Fergus Kelley were partners from 1893 to 1899. They built this home in 1897, where Fergus Kelley and his family lived until 1900. O’Brien went on to build some of Butte’s landmarks, including the Leonard Apartments…