Saturday, March 9, 2013

8 West Park (Metals Bank Building)

Built: 1906
Architect: Cass Gilbert

The strength of Butte’s early financial community is well represented in this monumental steel, brick, and stone skyscraper completed in 1906. Copper king F. Augustus Heinze financed the $325,000 bank building, incorporating the newest steel-frame and curtain-wall construction techniques. Nationally renowned architect Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) drew the blueprints and Montana architects Link and Haire supervised the local work. Gilbert’s best known work is New York City’s sixty-story Woolworth Building (1913) and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (1932-1935).

One of Montana’s first skyscrapers, the Metals’ eight floors add significantly to Butte’s urban skyline. A copper-trimmed entry complements the gray stone. Above, brick walls and stone arches culminate at the sixth floor. Ornate wrought iron balconies punctuate the second and seventh floors. The cornice and exterior window casements are copper, largely with a black patina today. An open wrought-iron staircase carries this element inside, where copper-trimmed windows with African mahogany frames and a marble-walled elevator lobby reflect 1906 Butte’s wealth. A huge polished steel bank vault recalls the building’s first use.

Upper floors were renovated in the late 2000s to produce elegant loft apartments and condominiums. 

Modified from historic plaque by Montana Historical Society. 1979 photo from HABS/HAER survey, by Jet Lowe, via Library of Congress (public domain). Photo of copper-lined door by Richard Gibson.

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