Saturday, March 23, 2013

16 East Granite (Hennessy Building)

Built: 1898
Architect: Frederick Kees

The prominent corner of Granite and Main Streets was occupied in 1876 by the Centennial Hotel, which opened on July 4 that year. After the hotel burned in 1888, apart from some tiny buildings, including a tailor's office, a news stand, and a fruit stand in 1891, the lot was largely vacant until 1897 when construction began on the 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, terra cotta, decorative glass, and wrought iron grille work to house Hennessy’s thriving business. The Anaconda Copper Mining Company added to the building’s prestige, moving its executive offices to the sixth floor in 1901. There the company reigned over its empire atop the city’s most modern building until 1977, when the Anaconda Company was acquired by Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) oil company. Fa├žade restoration in 1989 by ENTECH, Inc., rejuvenated the building, which now serves as a major business center accommodating modern offices. Transom-level Luxfer glass panels focus light into the ground floor.

"The Sixth Floor" became a pejorative term for the Anaconda Company, known in mining towns and union halls across the United States in the early 1900s. 

Modified from historic plaque by Montana Historical Society. Historic photo (1979) by Jet Lowe, HABS/HAER, Library of Congress. Modern photo (detail) by Richard Gibson.

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