Thursday, March 14, 2013

501 West Granite (Mueller Apartments)

Built: 1917
Architect: Jesse M. Wamen; builder: Clifton Applegate

Turn-of-the-century critics called apartment living “a shortcut . . . to the divorce court.” These moralists believed that the proximity of bedrooms to living areas—and the easy access to both by neighbors—encouraged promiscuity, while apartment dwellers’ limited housekeeping duties encouraged a dangerous lack of domesticity among wives. Nevertheless, apartments increasingly attracted middle-class residents, particularly young, childless couples, older couples whose children had grown, and bachelors and working women, who didn’t need as much space as larger families.

White-collar workers occupied the five-story, fifty-five-unit Mueller Apartments, built in 1917 as an investment by A. H. Mueller, president of Centennial Brewing Company. It cost $175,000 in dollars of the day, and was open for occupancy on March 10, 1918. The building incorporates Italian Renaissance style design elements: a symmetrical façade, a rusticated first story, keystone arches over the first-floor windows, and paired brackets and dentils under the cornice. Stained glass windows decorate the front entrance while a belt course and a distinct window pattern distinguish the fifth-floor penthouse apartments. These elegant, yet restrained architectural details announce the building’s respectability and, by extension, the respectability of its tenants, who included teachers, a doctor, salesclerks, accountants, and business owners.

The Mueller contained 38 two-room and 16 three-room apartments when completed. They included kitchenettes, bathrooms, and a "Murphy-in-a-door" bed. Every apartment had outside windows, and the building's hallways were finished in mahogany. The basement contained a ballroom, laundry facilities, and storage.

Reno Sales, Chief Geologist and Chief Mining Engineer for the Anaconda Company, lived in Apartment 507 here in 1928.

Text expanded from historic plaque by Montana Historical Society. Additional resource: Anaconda Standard, March 3, 1918 (source of old photo). Modern photo by Richard Gibson.

No comments:

Post a Comment