Sunday, January 19, 2014

803 West Granite

Built: 1901

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Schumacher Building (25 S. Montana)

By Richard I. Gibson

Built: 1919

Anaconda Standard, Nov 2, 1919
In 1919 H.J. Schumacher had this 36x32-foot business block constructed as a showroom and garage for the Buick Motor Company. It replaced two 2-story duplexes on Montana Street and a single-story home on Galena. Arnold & Van House architects designed the building and the construction contractors were Kroffganz & Frank. The roof was erected by Carlson & Manuell, contractors noted for their heavy girder work at the Park Street YMCA and elsewhere. The building featured a second-story dance hall which was promoted as the largest in the state, accommodating 400 people on the dance floor, and including a gallery of tiered seats, cloak rooms, and restrooms for the patrons. The hardwood flooring in the dance hall displays the fact that the building is not quite square, like many uptown Butte buildings where streets don’t quite follow property lines that are sometimes along old mining claim boundaries. The dance floor is supported by huge metal turnbuckles that are exposed in the ceiling of the ground floor.

Over time the building saw various uses. In 1928, Schumacher had a meat store across the street (listed as 20 S. Montana, but there is no such address; his meat market was at 222 East Park in 1910, when he lived with his wife Jennie at 736 S. Wyoming) and lived in the upstairs apartment here (21 S. Montana) and managed the Rosemont Pavilion, as the dance hall was called. The building was still an auto sales and service center in the 1950s, with a wholesale tire dealership on the second floor. More recently the block was home to the Pioneer Club (which owned the building from the 1940s until 2010), City Vac and Sew, and Schulte’s Glass. In 2011 John and Courtney McKee renovated the building and in early 2012 opened Headframe Spirits, a boutique distillery, whose products bear names of Butte mines. Destroying Angel whiskey reflects the fact that the building stands on the western limit of the interesting Destroying Angel claim. The dance hall upstairs continues to be used for events.

Resources: Architectural inventory; Sanborn maps; city directories; Anaconda Standard, Nov 2, 1919. Modern photo by Richard I. Gibson. Text modified from write-up by Gibson in Butte CPR 2011 Dust-to-Dazzle tour guide.