Sunday, October 26, 2014

Miner’s Savings Bank & Trust Co. Building



49-55 West Park Street
Built: 1913
Architect: John Shackleton
Map


Butte experienced its second mining boom in the teens before and during 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. The Miners Bank and Trust Company was established in 1907, with David J. Charles the first president. David Charles also owned a men’s furnishings store at 905 E. Front Street, and he lived with his wife Lallie at 701 E. Galena. The second bank president, beginning in February 1931, was A.J. Lochrie, husband of artist Elizabeth Lochrie. In 1935, when the state-chartered bank had deposits of $800,000, it was chartered as Miners National Bank of Butte, the second national bank in Butte.

The Miners Bank was initially quartered in the Thomas Block at 37-47 West Park Street.

On September 1, 1912, fire claimed the original Thomas Block, which housed the Miner’s Savings Bank. Depositors suffered no losses; the bank announced “the vault is standing. The safe is secure and will be opened as soon as it has cooled sufficiently.” The bank immediately planned to build its own building, next door to the Thomas Block, which was also rebuilt. John Shackleton designed and constructed the current building, completed in 1913.  A flat roof, decorative brickwork, large display widows flanking three recessed entries, and rows of windows above the street level reflect the high demand for office and living space. A row of concrete “M”s uniquely embellishes the space between the first and second floors.

The Bank’s long-time janitor, Robert Logan, was a former slave who was internationally known as a bass singer.

The bank occupied a ground floor office until the 1960s; the space was occupied by the Butte Uptown Post Office for years in the 1960s-70s. Upstairs, Lawrence and Katherine Graves were the longtime proprietors of the Miner’s Bank Block Furnished Rooms. In 1930, among their thirty-five lodgers were an architect, an actress, a teacher, miners, and salesmen. Also lodged under the same roof were government prohibition agent Carrol Olson and declared bootlegger Henry Allexis.

New owners in 2014 have established a Butte souvenir and memento company, Buttestuff, in the western part of the building, and the eastern portion, which originally housed the bank, is the location for the Butte Labor History Center that will open in 2015.  

Text modified from Historic Plaque by Montana Historical Society. Additional resources: Montana Standard, May 1. 1935; Anaconda Standard, Sept. 2, 1912. Photo by Richard I. Gibson.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

803 West Granite


Built: 1901
Map 

Prominently situated on a corner lot, this Queen Anne style residence is a neighborhood showpiece. Band leader Sam Treloar had the brick-veneered house constructed in 1901, possibly as an investment property. The Cornish bandmaster is best known as the leader of the Butte Mines Band, which he founded under a different name in 1887 and led for over fifty years. It was one of the United States’ most celebrated industrial bands, and its members, all miners, won first place in competitions across the West.

The two-story residence features an octagonal turret with wide overhanging eaves and a fixed stained glass window, an inviting front porch with double Tuscan column porch supports, and a projecting bay on the east façade. Banker Rupert Nuckolls lived here from 1908 through 1912 with his wife Georgia, their three children, and (after their eldest daughter married), their son-in-law and granddaughter. Georgia Nuckolls was an active clubwoman. Starting in the 1890s, the woman’s club movement provided its members social and intellectual opportunities (Nuckolls, for example was active in the Westside Shakespeare Club) as well as advocating for political reform.

Text from Historic Plaque by Montana Historical Society. Photo by Richard I. Gibson.

834 West Quartz


Built: 1897
Map 

As its population tripled in the 1890s, Butte began its transformation from a mining camp to a small city. The percentage of married men grew by 10 percent, and local builders worked busily to fulfill the increasing demand for single-family homes. Carpenter John Shackleton constructed several, almost identical cross-gable residences, including two on the 800 block of Broadway and one on this lot.

Built in 1897, the two-story, wood-frame residence was home to Edward and Alice Holden in 1900. Edward worked as telegraph editor for the Butte Miner, a daily newspaper. Ella Heuser and her husband Edward, a drugstore owner, purchased the residence circa 1908, and were likely responsible for building the one-story rear addition. By 1920, the home belonged to Jacob and Cora Pincus. Jacob had a varied career as a jeweler, watchmaker, and tobacco merchant. While he was "industrious," "trustworthy," and one of the city's "most conservative and substantial" businessmen by his own account, others remembered him as a "black sheep… [who] never did anything right." The Pincuses lived here until Jacob's death in 1942.

Text from Historic Plaque by Montana Historical Society. Photo by Richard I. Gibson.

815 West Granite


Built: 1897
Map 

Butte boomed as copper production doubled in the 1890s. The city issued 1,684 building permits between 1897 and 1898 as carpenters worked furiously to keep up with the demand for housing. The availability of mass-produced decoration allowed builders to embellish residences, and houses like this one showcased the Queen Anne style’s complicated textures and angles. Here the steeply pitched roof, cutaway front bay, square turret, fish-scale shingles, stained glass, and elaborate gable ornament all reflect the popular style.

Added between 1900 and 1916, the enclosed porch mirrors a later, simpler aesthetic. The hairpin fence, however, is likely original. Symbolically separating the 1897 residence from the street, the fence signals the Victorian notion that a dwelling should be a sanctuary from the larger world. In 1900, the residence became home—and perhaps sanctuary—to Cyrenus and Martha Smith. Cyrenus was a principal in the Owsley Realty Company and the Phoenix Electric Company. Victorian ideals aside, the house clearly suited them; the couple lived here until their deaths, his in 1938 and hers in 1955.

Text from Historic Plaque by Montana Historical Society. Photo by Richard I. Gibson.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

833 W. Quartz (Soroptimist House)




Built: c. 1895
Architect: H.M. Patterson
Map

Butte architect H. M. Patterson designed this brick home for attorney John Colter in the 1890s. Semicircular windows in the gables, stone lintels, a prominent portico supported by Tuscan columns, and an inviting front porch ornament the residence. Henry Muntzer, founder of the Butte Brewery, purchased the property in 1901 for his wife Mary and their eight children. Family members lived here into the 1940s, adding the east-side addition before 1916.

Butte’s Soroptimist Club purchased the residence in 1947 for $5,500. The charitable women’s organization campaigned tirelessly for funds to transform the house into a temporary “receiving home for dependent, neglected, abused, or abandoned children.” With volunteer help from Butte union members, the Soroptimists added four new rooms to the rear of the building, repaired the porches, updated the wiring, installed fire escapes, added a third bathroom, carpeted the floors, and built a playground. In its first ten years of operation, the home cared for over 1,700 children. After the Soroptimists moved in 1970, the residence fell into disrepair. It was rescued by Steve and Janet Hadnagy, who spent years restoring it to a single-family home.

Text from Historic Plaque by Montana Historical Society (Martha Kohl). Photo by Richard I. Gibson (Anselmo mine in right background). For more information about the Soroptimist House, see Motherlode, by Janet L. Finn and Ellen Crain (2005).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Apex Hotel




By Richard I. Gibson

429 West Park Street
Built: 1918
Map

1918
Built by William Robertson for the Tait brothers, this residential hotel is typical of many erected during Butte's population explosion in the 1910s. John Tait was a dentist in 1910, in partnership with A.H. Cole with offices at 48 W. Park. John’s brother George was a clerk for the Anaconda Company, boarding at 844 W. Silver. By 1914 the Taits were evidently successful enough to branch into real estate, hiring William Robertson to erect the Tait Hotel on East Broadway that year; John lived at the Tait Hotel in 1915-17. In 1918 John's office was on the sixth floor of the Phoenix Building and George was a teller at Miners Savings Bank, and both lived at the Apex once it was completed. In 1928, George was out of the picture, John had moved his office to room 103 in the Pennsylvania Block, four blocks east of the Apex Hotel, and his wife Hattie managed the Apex.

The Tait family home in the 1890s, where I believe John and George lived as children, was at 13 West Copper, next door to a Chinese Laundry. It is a vacant lot today. Their father Robert was a contractor and a carpenter.

In 1923 the five-year-old hotel's residents included Mollie Allen, high school teacher; Juanita Daniels, clerk at the Leggat Hotel; J.J. Delphin, manager at the Ground Gripper Shoe Store at 112 W. Park; Kathryn Dowd, bookkeeper at the C.O.D. Laundry; and H.R. Doyle, a concrete loader.

So far as I can tell, Dr. John Tait was only directly associated with the Tait Hotel on Broadway Street until 1918 when the Apex was built. Beginning in 1917, he is no longer listed as the proprietor of the Tait Hotel, which was run by Mrs. Niconor Swanson.

Resources: Architectural inventories; Butte Miner, March 24, 1918 (historic photo); city directories; Sanborn maps. Modern photo by Richard I. Gibson.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Five-Mile House



By Richard I. Gibson

5100 Harrison Avenue
Built: c. 1905
Map

The highway out of Butte to the east went south, along what is now Harrison Avenue and ultimately over Pipestone Pass to Whitehall. The route was marked by inns – Mile Houses – at least at 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 18 miles from the heart of uptown Butte, the last one about five miles east of the Continental Divide. The two most famous survivors are the Nine Mile, in Thompson Park, and the Five Mile, at 5100 Harrison.

An inn, with a café and saloon, was probably at this location by the late 1880s and certainly by the early 1890s. The property was owned in the mid-1890s by ticket broker, cigar wholesaler, and later real estate tycoon Adolph Pincus. In 1896, all the personal property in the place, owned by one Ida Au Claire, was offered in security to Pincus for a loan of $855, which he carried at 2½% interest per month. The property included 8 horses, three wagons, two pair of bobsleds, and 150 cords of wood.

The inn on this site in the earliest 1900s was a resort and venue for prize fights “which could not be pulled off in Butte.” “Kid Foley” and “Kid Opie” both boxed there in lightweight bouts in 1901, and the place was well known as a venue for large private parties. Because of the proximity to the cemeteries out Harrison Avenue, it was also a frequent stopping-place for after-burial gatherings.

The original hostelry burned to the ground November 13, 1902. A kitchen fire spread, and the proprietor’s wife (Mrs. Joseph Ethier) reportedly suffered serious burns and injuries when she jumped from a second-floor window. The building was a total loss, estimated at $3,000.

Frank Cash, 1920
Frank Cash (1858-1931) was an Austrian immigrant by way of New York. He came to the U.S. about 1886 and was in Butte by 1891, and after a short stint as a miner he began to work as a saloonkeeper. In 1898 Mr. Cash lived in Meaderville working as a laborer, but by 1900 he was operating a saloon at his residence at 21 Lincoln in Meaderville. The next year he had a new saloon at 1260 Talbot, the continuation of Mercury Street. His saloon was at Talbot and Watson, with the Monitor Mine in the back yard and the massive Braund Boarding House across the street (Lost Butte, p. 34-35). The Pennsylvania Mine was just a few blocks straight north. His saloon, with a restaurant in the rear, came to be called the Cash House. This area is all in the Berkeley Pit or eradicated by its margin today.

About 1905 Frank Cash moved out Harrison Avenue to a house and saloon across from the present Five Mile House, which was built probably by 1904 or 1905. In 1906, family lore says the flip of a silver dollar allowed him to buy the Five Mile (if it had gone the other way, the owner of the Five Mile would have bought him out), and the family had many decades of connection to the place thereafter. In addition to managing the Five Mile House, Frank was the regional distributor for the Wurlitzer Music Company in Butte; one transaction in 1914 grossed $1,550 in a sale of a violin, flute, and piano.

Frank left Butte when prohibition started in 1919, moving to the Bitterroot Valley where he established a famous $100,000 ranch on 1,000 acres along Skalkaho Creek where he raised registered shorthorn cattle.

After Frank left Butte, his daughter Louise Kall managed the Five Mile even after divorcing her husband Martin Kall, and her daughter (Louise) and granddaughter (Donna Anderson) ran the place well into the 2000s.

Resources: excellent basic research and family history by Carl Jones (great-great grandson of Frank Cash), Butte High School, Ann Cote Smith Essay Contest, 2003; Butte Archives MC494-Box 1-FF 006 including Pincus chattel mortgage; Archives VF 0875.2; Anaconda Standard Nov. 13, 1902; Anaconda Standard July 4, 1920 (Frank Cash photo); Anaconda Standard Feb. 23, 1931; The 1919 Blue Book road guide for travelers; Sanborn maps; city directories. Building photo by Richard I. Gibson.