Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lovers roost

Anaconda Standard, Nov. 30, 1919

Address: 600 West Gold
Built: 1909

By Richard I. Gibson

Lover’s Roost or Lover’s Knoll is the quaint name given in the old days to the little hill between West Gold and Platinum Streets, with a high point east of South Crystal Street. There’s only one house on this entire block.

The home at 600 West Gold was built in 1909 for Mrs. Harriet Armstrong, a widow. The property was first staked as a mining claim by William Farlin in 1875. Farlin had established the nearby Asteroid claim, Butte’s first underground silver mine, in 1874. He developed the Asteroid, later known as the Travona, using a $30,000 loan from W.A. Clark’s bank. When Farlin defaulted, Clark took over the Travona, one of his first profitable mines.  Mrs. Armstrong, widow of James, bought the undeveloped block about 1908 from the Clark-Montana Realty Company and had the house built from local rock in 1909.

There is a great deal of rumor surrounding the home's occupants. It’s been suggested that Mrs. Armstrong built the isolated house away from others because she felt spiteful that Butte’s high society had rejected her because of an alleged 25-year illicit love affair with Alexander Johnston, a cashier with the W.A. Clark & Bro. Bank. He lived in the upscale 900 block of West Broadway in 1900, and at the Silver Bow Club in 1910.

Lover's Knoll in 1884
Alternative tales included the idea that the woman resident in the house was jilted by a suitor and had gone mad. There is no good evidence for any of these rumors, and while the truth is likewise unknown, it’s probably pretty mundane.

Although the home has strong Craftsman-style elements, there is also no evidence that it was designed by Gustav Stickley himself. Other rumors suggested it was modeled after the wing of a Swiss chalet.

Popular Mechanics, 1917
Mrs. Armstrong died of cancer about 1931, and the house was occupied by Alex Johnston from 1934-37. Yes, that Alex Johnston. Real evidence for the rumor? Or circumstantial? Maybe Johnston took advantage of his position with the bank to acquire the house. In any case, it stood vacant for a couple years, until about 1939 when the second long-time owners purchased the home. Dr. Robert G. Kroeze and his wife Cynthia lived here for at least 32 years. Dr. Kroeze’s office after about 1942 was in the Mayer Building (Park Street Liquors, Park and Montana) until his retirement in 1972.

The house, its chimneys, and the prominent retaining walls on Platinum and Crystal Streets are all constructed of “porphyry rock,” local granite.  The house on Lovers Roost was the first of several to be made from this rock.

“Never before has the waste from a mine been so artistically arranged.”—Anaconda Standard, November 30, 1919

The Standard reported in 1919 that the stones used in the home’s construction were “really the outcroppings of a silver and manganese ledge of unusual length and richness,” assaying from 4 to 60 ounces of silver per ton and 12 to 18% manganese. Some of the rock richest in silver was reportedly from the ledge on the 200-foot level of the Travona.

William Farlin was among the few prospectors who stayed in Butte in the late 1860s and early 1870s, when the population dwindled to a few dozen as the easy-to-find gold played out. He eventually took samples to Salt Lake City where they assayed high in silver, and on his return to Butte he staked 13 claims on January 1, 1875, including the Travona (initially named the Asteroid). Farlin's discovery proved to be the rejuvenation of Butte – this time, for silver.

Image above from Stacy Leipheimer, who adds, "Ed and Myrna Leipheimer bought the house in 1979 and that is when they had to move the cars out. Dr. Kroese was spending time at his home in Mexico when he came home and found they had lowered Platinum Street."

Resources: Architectural Inventory; Anaconda Standard, Nov. 30, 1919; May 16, 1909; Popular Mechanics, April 1917; Sanborn Maps; City Directories; 1884 Bird’s-Eye View.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

22 East Quartz

by Linda Albright

Built c. 1915

In 1915, James E. Murphy owned this building.  It was built by Nelson & Pederson to be used as a garage.  The cost of the original construction was $13,500. It had a concrete first floor and hollow tile second, steam heat, electric lights and a wood truss roof.

In 1916 it was Perham & Riley's Garage with a capacity of 44 cars.  From 1918 through 1927, it was known as the Montana Cadillac Company.  In 1928, the name changed to the Quartz Street Garage.  From 1929 through 1934, it was known as the Alemite Quartz Street Garage, and was managed by the Bartsch Brothers.

In 1942,  William H. and Jack H. Harkins opened the Harkins Bottling Company.  The business included making and bottling soda pop; distributing the soda and numerous snacks to businesses around the Butte area.  The business was truly a family-run operation as the brothers’ wives took turns working in the office.  Harkins Wholesale and Bottling Company existed until the early 1980s.

The lot where this building stands held a small frame lodging house ("furnished rooms" - but it was so small, there couldn't have been many rooms) from before 1884 until the middle 1890s. It appears that this was a vacant lot for close to 20 years until the garage was constructed. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Miner’s Savings Bank & Trust Co. Building

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

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 at that time, but the third national bank in Butte history (see the comment below).

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

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 fa├žade. 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).