Saturday, November 2, 2013

Uptown YMCA


By Tiffany Nitschke

405 W. Park (also 401-405-407 W. Park)
Architect: Floyd Hamill

The uptown YMCA is located at 405 West Park Street. The earliest attempts to establish a YMCA in Butte were made before the turn of the 20th Century. A fundraising campaign was initiated and within a few months enough money was raised to finance the construction of a six-story building.

Butte Miner, June 8, 1917
Ground was broken June 7, 1917 ( a day before the Granite Mountain Mine disaster) and the $350,000 building opened in 1919. The rectangular structure with a built-up flat roof has a granite-veneered foundation and is of solid masonry construction with brick siding. There are combination stone lintels and keystone with stone sills. Tuscan columns support a balustrade which fronts a window framed by a broken pediment over the main Park Street entrance. One- to three-story windows have a complete molding, while the one- to two-story windows are connected with a stone panel.

The architect for the building was Floyd Hamill of Butte, but the design and focus originated from an unnamed firm which designed and built YMCA buildings throughout the world for the Association. Contractors were the local firm of Nelson and Peterson. Floyd Hamill was a respected local architect, whose work in 1917 and 1918 included Deaconess Hospital, St. John the Evangelist and St. Anne's Catholic Churches, and a residence for the sisters of St. Joseph's parish.

The landmark YMCA building included a bowling alley, a temperance bar, dormitory rooms, a pool, a court carpeted running track, and a two-story gymnasium. The YMCA also included a library that was specially wired to accommodate a "moving motion picture machine" for use by mine rescue and first-aid personnel. Following early 20th Century conventions, boys and men were strictly segregated as the North Washington Street entry inscription, "Boys Entrance," demonstrates.

In 1986, a successful campaign resulted in the purchase of The Courtrooms, on the Flats, to which the YMCA moved. That location is now a private racquetball court. In 2005, the uptown YMCA was acquired by the Butte-Silver Bow Arts Foundation, but the expenses of repairs and heating bills were overwhelming, and the building was vacant for several years until 2013 when it was purchased by Peter and Stephanie Sorini of Butte, who plan to remodel it for lodgings, shops, and other diverse uses. News story

Resources: Historic plaque by Montana Historical Society; text modified from Butte CPR; photo (2004) by Richard Gibson.

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