They call it “The Richest Hill on Earth.” In the fifty years after the first picks were swung into the nearly bares slopes above Silver Bow Creek some three billion dollars in mineral wealth was extracted here. G.O. Humphrey and William Allison found the first placer deposits in Silver Bow Creek in 1864. There was quickly a mining camp of several hundred prospectors but there wasn’t that much gold and even less water so most moved on. 

Those that stayed soon discovered rich ledges of silver and a silver boom was on in the 1870s, enough to sustain a real town. A townsite patent was issued in 1876 and the city was incorporated in 1879. By the time the railroad arrived in the mid-1880s Butte boasted a population of more than 10,000. Also about that time America was becoming electrified and electricity required copper. The silver miners knew there was copper in Butte Hill but there hadn’t been any market for it and the cost of smelting copper was high. Now they went after it with a vengeance and found some of the richest veins on earth. Butte mines supplied one-third of all the copper in the United States through World War I.

Three men in particular clawed for the riches in Butte Mountain - Marcus Daly who arrived in town in 1876 to supervise silver mines; William Andrews Clark, a banker who piled up mining properties that went into default; and Fritz Augustus Heinze who was late to the party but whose wily legal maneuverings and miner-friendly dealings helped him unearth hundreds of thousands of tons of high grade copper ore. The battles waged by the “Copper Kings” had widespread ramifications in Montana politics, its labor heritage and its financial landscape. It all ended with the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, which Daly had started with help from George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst, swallowing up most of Butte’s mines by 1913. By 1929 Anaconda was not only by far the largest company in Montana, it was the fourth largest company in the world.

But the demand for Butte copper had already long peaked by then. Other mines were being opened around the world, the Great Depression was on the doorstep and the costs to add ever-deeper tunnels to the 2,000 miles of passageways already under Butte Hill were skyrocketing. In the 1950s Anaconda began the controversial practice of strip mining, leveling entire hills to bring out the copper. The company shut down its mining operations in 1982, leaving one of its strip mines - the Berkeley Pit - to be declared the largest Superfund environmental disaster site in America.

Downtown Butte, called “Uptown” for its position on the hill, experienced its biggest building boom from 1890 until the United States entered World War I in 1917. Not much was built after that as the demand for copper withered away but there also wasn’t much torn down either. Our walking tour of The Richest Hill on Earth will see many of the same buildings we would have seen on the same route 100 years ago and we’ll start at the showcase home of one of Butte’s Copper Kings...

William A. Clark Mansion/Copper King Mansion
219 West Granite Street at northeast corner of Idaho Street

When Wiliam Andrews Clark died in his New York City mansion in 1925 at the age of 86 he was the last of Butte’s three Copper Kings and one of the 50 richest Americans who ever lived. It was a long way from the Van Buren County, Iowa schoolhouse where he once taught after leaving Pennsylvania as a young man in 1856. Clark was 23 when he set out for Colorado to chase gold. Soon he was in Montana, working a modest placer claim around Bannack. Clark realized there was money to be made trading and transporting supplies among the camps; he invested his profits in banking and accumulated mining properties that had been foreclosed on. Clark’s fortune bulged with interests in power companies, railroads, and smelting the world’s richest copper in Butte. He erected this picturesque Queen Anne mansion between 1884 and 1888, making certain that every one of the 34 rooms - each with a different imported wood finish - was outfitted with the most modern inventions. Clark poured an estimated $250,000 into this house - at a time when a good daily wage was about two dollars a day. 


Leonard Apartments
205 West Granite Street

Butte architect William A. O’Brien decorated this four-story brick apartment building with stylish curved bays and an eye-catching overhanging cornice. He added Beaux Arts details such as carved ornaments, Tuscan pillars and a wrought iron balcony. When it was completed in 1906 the Leonard immediately filled up with tenants.

Henry Jacobs House
northwest corner of Montana and Granite streets

When Henry Jacobs was nine years old his family sailed from Baden, Germany for America and settled in Mississippi. After surviving the siege of Vicksburg in the Civil War he migrated to Montana Territory where he began the H. Jacobs and Company clothing store in Diamond in 1866. A move followed to Deer Lodge and then into Butte in 1876 as one of the first merchants in town. Jacobs built this home, the first brick residence in the city in 1879 - the year he began serving as the first mayor of Butte.

Silver Bow County Courthouse
155 West Granite Street at northeast corner of Montana Street

Charles S. Haire was an Ohio-trained architect who came west in 1886 where he obtained commissions from the railroads. Settling in Helena, he became one of the state’s busiest architects, teaming with John Gustave Link, a native German trained in Denver, in 1906. Until Haire’s death in 1925 the duo were Montana’s leading designers, responsible for over 100 schools, more than 50 churches, and hundreds of office buildings and residences. Of Montana’s 56 county courthouses, the names of Link and Haire are attached to 18. The Silver Bow Courthouse, rendered in an ornate Beaux Arts style, is considered one of their masterworks. Completed in 1912, the composition features pale brick walls resting on a rusticated foundation and classically-inspired sandstone trim that includes fluted Doric columns. The price tag was $485,000. At the dedication ceremonies Butte Chamber of Commerce spokesman D.J. Charles was moved to gush, “We can boast of one of the best, if not the best, and the most beautiful county buildings in the state of Montana or throughout the entire Northwest.”

Carpenters Union Hall
156 West Granite Street

Miners organized around Butte as early as 1878 with the creation of the Butte Workingman’s Union. By 1885, there were about 1,800 dues-paying members as the town earned a reputation as the “Gibraltar of Unionism” in the Rocky Mountains. The Butte Carpenters’ Union, Local #112 was chartered in 1890 and constructed this Renaissance Revival meeting hall in 1906; it was originally designed as four stories but topped out at three. The brick structure is wrapped on the street level in decorative dressed sandstone hauled from Columbus quarries east of town. The hall became home to many of Butte’s unions and remained so for more than 100 years.   

Silver Bow Club
northwest corner of Granite and Alaska streets

Butte’s first men’s social club, with William Clark at its head, began gathering the town’s money men together in 1882. The club moved into these handsome Renaissance Revival digs in 1907, one of the first commissions from the architectural duo of John Link and Charles Haire. Butte’s elite met here until their bankbooks were ravaged during the Great Depression and the Silver Bow Club withered away. In the 1950s the Butte Miners Union purchased the building that was once the bastion of their employers.

Butte Water Company
124 West Granite Street

Thaddeus Lane hailed from Ohio and came to Montana in 1906 with a vision to establish independent, automated telephone exchanges. After a close scrutiny of local conditions he decided that Butte offered a profitable field for his telephone endeavor and established here the Montana Independent Telephone Company. In 1907 Lane launched his business from this grand Beaux Arts-styled exchange building advertising “the cuss-less, wait-less, out-of-orderless, girl-less telephone.” Lane energetically laid lines and eventually had eight telephone exchanges between the Dakotas and the Pacific Coast by 1917 when Rocky Mountain Bell consolidated all the local exchanges. In 1918 the Butte Water Company moved into the two-story arcaded building that came from the busy architectural shop of George H. Shanley out of Great Falls.

Lawlor & Rowe Insurance Company
120 West Granite Street

This splash of Georgian Revival architecture appeared on the Butte streetscape in 1909, first as a single story and then, seven years later, with a second level. In the small facade you can see such hallmarks of the Colonial style as stone keystones over the openings, a small dentil block cornice and a balustrade on the roof. William V. Lawlor was a realtor when he moved in but after James H. Rowe came on board the business shifted to insurance. The brick building continues to handle insurance policies a century later. 


Silver Bow County Jail
225 North Alaska Street at southwest corner of Quartz Street 

Architects John Link and Charles Haire continued filling up this block with Beaux Arts buildings by adding the county jail in 1909; until the courthouse was ready it did duty as a house of justice. The two buildings are linked by an underground passage. The jailhouse appears appropriately sterner than its blockmates, rising from a thickly grooved rusticated base. Look up to see a pride of terra cotta lion heads that were based on Theodore Roosevelt’s Smithsonian Institution-sponsored African expedition in 1909 after he left the White House. Gone for over a year, the Smithsonian East Africa Expedition amassed a collection of 23,151 natural history specimens and obtained live animals for the National Zoological Park. 


The Original Mine
bounded by Copper, Main, Woolman and Montana streets

The original mine headframe and hoist house stand on “The Richest Hill on Earth” where the scores of intersecting rich ore veins were first tapped in 1864. Today the site is used for concerts, outdoor movies, weddings and a haunted house at Halloween. 


Scott Block
15 West Copper Street

This distinguished three-story brick building raised on a rubble stone foundation built into the hillside opened in 1897 as a boarding house for single miners. The Scott family started the business but the name has long outlived their proprietorship. During Prohibition int he 1920s, Scott’s was a place where miners knew they could always find a “John O’Farrell,” as a whiskey and a beer was ordered.

Mike Mansfield Federal Building
northeast corner of Copper and Main streets

The federal government announced its presence in Butte with this Renaissance Revival building from the office ofSupervising Architect of the United States Treasury Department James Knox Taylor in 1904. No cost was spared for the materials from the granite steps to the profusion of terra cotta decoration. Designed to tame the slope of the hillside, the building boasts a rusticated base, decorative quoins around the openings and corners and a balustrade at the rooftop. In 2002 the federal building took the name of Mike Mansfield, a native New Yorker who was elected to five terms in the United State House of Representatives and four terms in the United States Senate from Montana.


Tuttle Building
304 North Main Street

Shelley Tuttle started one of the first foundries in Butte in 1881. He manufactured machinery for the mining industry and gradually expanded into general sales of hardware and household goods. On August 11, 1890, Tuttle purchased the stock of goods and merchandise of the Butte Trading Company for $47,000 and in 1892 this three-story brick building with stone trim went up as a retail outlet. By the close of 1894, the Tuttle foundry works in Anaconda employed 175 men and was the largest in Montana. Two years later Tuttle sold out to Marcus Daly, one of the Copper Kings who was a major stockholder in the venture. Daly brought the operation under his Anaconda Copper Mining Company umbrella; it continues to this day.  

Hennessy Building  
130 North Main Street at southeast corner of Granite Street

They called it the Hennessy Big Store and it filled the bill. For years A.B. Hammond’s Missoula Mercantile was the place for miners to spend their new-found wealth until the day Hammond fell out with business associate Marcus Daly. The Copper King decided it was time Butte got a store fit to compete with Missoula’s best. He staked fellow Irishman Daniel J. Hennessy, who was operating a successful store in town, with the money to bring a true department store to Butte. Daly recruited esteemed Victorian architect Frederick Kees from Minneapolis to design a sprawling Renaissance Revival showcase with red terra cotta, decorative glass and wrought iron grillwork. When Hennessys opened in 1898 Butte shoppers wandered among 17 departments outfitted with marble staircases, oak counters, and solid bronze balustrades. Hennessy couldn’t stock the shelves fast enough - and when he died unexpectedly a decade later he was the leading merchant in Montana. Daly put his stamp of approval on the enterprise by moving the executive offices of his Anaconda Copper Mining Company to the sixth floor in 1901. The town’s largest department store closed in 1980 although the brand was carried by Mercantile Stores until it was dropped forever in 1998, one hundred years after its founding. 


The Napton
25 East Granite Street

Walking down Granite Street in 1906 with Hennessys on one side and the Napton Apartments on the other the visitor to Butte could be excused for thinking it was Denver or St. Louis. Architect William A. O’Brien brought the big-city feel to the multi-unit residence with a bold entry arch and oversized brackets on the wide cornice. Long-term residents sought out The Napton and it continues as apartment living today.

Hennessy Annex/Sears Building Lofts
32-40 East Granite Street 

William A. O’Brien was back at work on this block designing an addition to Hennessy’s booming retail business. In 1941 Sears, Roebuck and Company opened its first retail store on the ground floor here and remained until the 1970s. After that the building went into receivership and barely dodged the wrecking ball in the 1990s before receiving a makeover into a 34-unit mixed use building. The historical integrity of the first floor has been lost but you can look up to see porthole windows and a massive bracketed cornice. 


Finlen Hotel
100 East Broadway Street at southeast corner of Wyoming Street

Beginning in 1889 the McDermott was the grandest hotel in Butte, the kind of guest house where Presidents and celebrities would sign the register. But when James T. Finlen, banker and son of mining baron Miles Finlen, acquired the property he dreamed of an even grander hotel. He tore down the McDermott in 1924 and directed the Great Falls architectural firm of Shanley & Baker to construct a nine-story French Second Empire-inspired hostelry based on the Hotel Astor in New York City. Finlen poured $750,000 into the building but with plunging copper prices following the end of the Great War in 1918 it wasn’t enough to finish the second tower. 


Thornton Block
65 East Broadway at northwest corner of Wyoming Street

Carrying the name of John Caldwell Calhoun Thornton, a Confederate guerilla in Missouri during the Civil War, the elegant Thornton Hotel was long the hotel of choice in Butte for the likes of Wyatt Earp, Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and others. The five-story building boasts a cast iron-and- glass canopy that runs the entire width of the facade. F. Augustus Heinze, one of Butte’s Copper Kings, lived here for many years while in town. John Link and Charles Haire tacked on a three-story annex to the hotel along Granite Street in 1906, one of the first projects in their fruitful 20-year partnership. In 1947 the Anaconda Copper Mining Company purchased the building and converted the space into an Employees Club. 

City Hall
24 East Broadway Street

From 1888 until 1892 nearly every civic building project in America adopted the brawny Richardsonian Romanesque style based on the works of Boston Architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Butte was no exception as it was ready for a government house of substance in 1890. The City Hall featured such hallmarks of the style as a prominent corner clock tower, powerful entrance arches, curved windowheads and rough-cut stone. The building did duty as Butte City Hall until the 1970s.      

Hirbour Block
northeast corner of Main and Broadway 

This was Butte’s first “skyscraper,” rising in 1901. It displays the convention of the day to create early high-rise buildings in the image of a classical column with a defined base (in this case the rusticated lower two floors), a shaft (the unadorned central stories) and a capital (the decorative cornice). The money man for the eight-story street ornament was Emanuel Hirbour, a French-Canadian land speculator. Hirbour, however, died before he could see his historic building completed. Originally constructed as a grocery store, the space was most famously occupied by the Hirbour Barber Shop for decades.   

First National Bank
101 North Main Street at northwest corner of Broadway Street

Andrew Jackson Davis was said to make the first million dollars in Butte - even before the discovery of the “Richest Hill on Earth.” Davis made his money farming, trading and milling and he launched the First National Bank in 1877. For the next 75 years an Andrew Jackson Davis would be at the helm of the bank, first a nephew and then a grand nephew. The founder died in 1890 and this classical banking vault came along in 1909 from go-to Butte architects John Link and Charles Haire. The two-story brick structure is dressed in carved stone and shades of terra cotta tile that create fluted Ionic pilasters and a formal pedimented entrance on Main Street. 

Mantle & Bielenberg Block
15-19 West Broadway Street

The Bielenberg family made the familiar mid-19th century trek from central Europe to central America in 1854, settling on a farm in Davenport, Iowa. Nicholas Bielenberg was seven at the time and when he was 16 he left for the big city to apprentice as a butcher in Chicago. The year 1865 found Nick on a steamboat chugging up the Missouri River to Montana Territory where his brother John and half-brother Conrad Kohrs were running cattle. Conrad Kohrs would come to be known as the “Cattle King” and at his peak was grazing 10 million acres of land covering four states and Canada. Bielenberg would be one of the first to drive cattle into the Deer Lodge Valley and introduced sheep into western Montana. While he spent the bulk of his time in Deer Lodge, Bielenberg operated one of the largest wholesale butchering operations in the Northwest out of Butte. He constructed this Romanesque-styled commercial block as an investment with stage agent-turned newspaperman Lee Mantle. Both were prominent in Republican politics in Montana; while Bielenberg remained behind the scenes Mantle was elected mayor of Butte in 1892 and served four years in the United States Senate.   

Butte Miner Building
23 West Broadway Street at northeast corner of Hamilton Street

Copper King William Andrews Clark got into politics early and served as president of both Montana state constitutional conventions in 1884 and 1889. He founded the Butte Miner in this colorful Victorian building in 1884 to promote his political career. When he couldn’t persuade voters with his words, he turned to his wallet - one of the biggest in America. His greatest ambition was to become a United States Senator which happened in 1899 - only the Senate refused to seat Clark because it was revealed that he bribed members of the Montana State Legislature in return for their votes. The next year he won a popular election to reach the United States Senate and shrugged off his past indiscretions supposedly saying, “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale.”

Mantle Block/Piccadilly Museum of Transportation
20 West Broadway Street

Lee Mantle continued his investment in this block in 1892 with a substantial four-story commercial building. Mantle was born in Birmingham, England is 1851 and after his mother converted to Mormonism she packed up the family and moved to Utah Territory. When she arrived she discovered men practicing polygamy and, believing she was misled by Mormon missionaries, renounced the religion. The Romanesque design was provided by Henry M. Patterson, Butte’s most prominent Victorian architect. Patterson was born and raised in Ohio and came to Butte in 1881 when he was 25 to work as a carpenter, the trade of his Scottish father. The self-taught Patterson was never constrained by architectural dogma and often threw eclectic touches into his works such as the curved corner turret here and a triad of Gothic openings in the middle guarded by snarling griffins. Patterson left Butte around 1905 for Southern California where he specialized in designing Presbyterian churches. 


M&M Cigar Store
9 South Main Street

“M & M” were Sam Martin and William F. Mosby and their “cigar store” was a saloon, so-named during Prohibition to appease those opposed to what was really being sold inside. The two miners opened their drinking and gambling establishment in 1890 and operated 24 hours a day to accommodate the round-the-clock operations at the mines. The watering hole has been a Butte institution ever since and even took a star turn in 2005’s Hollywood production of Don’t Come Knocking with Sam Shepherd essaying an out-of-favor Western movie star.

Metals Bank and Trust
8 West Park Street at southwest corner of Main Street

Metals Bank was the bank of Copper King Marcus Daly; it was started in 1882 by W.L. Hoge and M.B. Brownlee. This eight-story steel-and-brick-and-stone tower came from the pen of Cass Gilbert, one of America’s most famous architects, in 1906. Gilbert, a Minnesota architect who would design three state capitols, the United States Supreme Court and the world’s tallest building at the time, New York City’s Woolworth Building, infused his Italian Renaissance creation here with Gothic and Mission-style details. It is thought that Gilbert found his way to Montana through former St. Paul schoolmates who moved west when he moved east.


F & W Grand Building
22 West Park Street

There wasn’t much going on construction-wise in Butte during the Great Depression but this is one project that made it to the streetscape in 1930. Harold F. Stone and his brother, Adolph F. Stone, were the owners of F. & W. Grand Company, a nationwide chain of 5¢-10¢-25¢ stores based in New York City. On November 8, 1929 F. & W. Grand Co. merged with another 5¢-10¢-25¢ store chain known as Isaac Silver & Brothers, forming F. & W. Grand-Silver Stores, Inc. This block-swallowing two-story emporium was the new chain’s 96th store. Executed with black and gold Montana marble and slathered in glazed terra cotta, the store cost more than $200,000 to construct. Hopefully the carved lions on the parapet didn’t scare off too many customers.

Curtis Music Hall
15 West Park Street

This quintessential Victorian brick building was raised in 1892 for John H. Curtis, a lawyer and entrepreneur. The composition is awash in towers, turrets, gables and picturesque elements. Curtis was a Confederate sympathizer who refused to sign an oath of allegiance after the Civil War and was banned from practicing law in Missouri so he headed for Montana Territory. He went into the grocery business in Helena and was finally admitted to the Montana bar in 1882. 

Original City Hall
116 West Park Street

This is one of the last souvenirs from Butte’s days emerging from a mining camp. Constructed of brick in 1884, the town’s government holed up here until 1890 when the exploding wealth of the town warranted the new offices on Broadway Street. After that it reverted to conventional retail space but the stairway leading upstairs to the one-time courtroom still survives. 


Stephens Hotel
southeast corner of Montana and Park streets

The story goes that Frank Stephens was visiting Butte when he spotted a large hole in the ground here. Figuring he already had a head start on digging out a basement he decided to build a hotel. Finished in 1891, the building is distinguished by its corner turret on the second and third floors. The most famous tenant was Lutey’s Marketeria that lays claim to being the earliest self-service grocery in the United States, a concept picked up and popularized by the Piggly Wiggly chain out of Memphis, Tennessee. Joseph Lutey started in the grocery trade in Granite in 1889 after more than twenty years in the mines. He and his sons arrived in Butte in 1897 and in 1912 moved into the first floor here.

Mayer Building
127 West Park Street at northeast corner of Montana Street

This commercial building was erected in 1900 for the Mayer Electric Company of Dora and Max Mayer with floors upstairs for boarders. The Park Street elevation retains the original fenestration and the Montana facade has been totally altered. 


J.L. Morris Building
129-135 West Broadway Street at northeast corner of Montana Street

This is another of the quirky additions to the Butte streetscape from self-taught architect Henry M. Patterson in 1898. Patterson livened up the building with oriel windows, quarry-cut inset stone designs over the arched windows and fanciful brickwork. The storefront came along later.    

First Baptist Church
201 West Broadway at northwest corner of Montana Street

The Baptists first gathered in Butte in 1882 and by 1905 the congregation was 450 strong. Contractor and developer Charles Passmore delivered this handsome Romanesque church with arched windows in the towers and an oversized stone base.  


First Presbyterian Church/Covellite Theatre
215 West Broadway Street at northeast corner of Idaho Street

Architect Henry M. Patterson, a member of the congregation that formed in 1878, tapped Gothic influences for this church building in 1896. Patterson embellished the house of worship with a square tower and antique stained glass windows. The building served the Presbyterians for more than 60 years and for the next 40 after that it hosted live performance productions. After Patterson left Butte for Southern California he was kept busy designing sanctuaries for the Presbyterian Church. 


Donald Campbell Residence
307 West Broadway Street

Donald Campbell was born on Canada’s Cape Breton Island in 1862 and earned his medical degree at the University of Vermont. When he arrived in Butte in 1892 he couldn’t afford a case for his scalpel but he built a popular practice and helped found the Silver Bow Medical Association in 1900. Along the way he became a surgeon for the Northern Pacific Railway and the personal doctor for Copper King F. Augustus Heinze. The core of his house here dates to the early 1880s but its current Spanish Renaissance appearance came in a 1916 makeover. 


St. Johns Episcopal Church
15 North Idaho Street at southwest corner of Broadway Street

This is the oldest church still standing in Butte, started in 1881. The current structure, resembling a Norman castle and faced in Butte granite, has been expanded and remodeled many times through the years. This was the church of magnate W. A. Clark and benefited from his largesse which is on display in the exquisite stained glass. 

Butte Public Library
226 West Broadway Street at southeast corner of Broadway Street

The first books in Butte were lent during 1894 after Mountain View Mine owner Charles Larable donated $10,000 towards the construction of a library on the 100 block of West Broadway. The citizens of Butte then approved a $100,000 bond issue. The building survived fires and served the town for almost a century until it closed in 1991 - a book brigade moved the collection down the street to its new home here.

Knights of Columbus
224 West Park Street at southeast corner of Idaho Street

The Knights of Columbus first organized in Butte in 1902; the three-story building was erected at the corner of Park and Idaho streets in 1917. Architect Wellington Smith fashioned his Renaissance Revival creation with tapestry brick shipped up from Helena and hand-carved artificial stone. Members enjoyed the use of a pool, gymnasium and grand octagonal event room. 


Thomas Lavell Residence
301 West Park Street

Mines need timber and boomtowns need lumber so when Canadians Thomas and Geoffrey Lavell arrived in Montana in 1874 they started a sawmill. In the 1880s Thomas started the Butte Cab and Transfer Company which evolved from a livery stable into the state’s largest taxicab and light trucking business. This picturesque Victorian home was built by Thomas and Melissa Lavell in 1887 that made fine use of Lavell company lumber. Thomas Lavell lived here into his 88th year in 1941.

Masonic Temple
314 West Park Street

On May 10, 1876, the Deputy Grand Master issued a dispensation for a lodge at Butte City and the fledgling town had a chapter of the world’s oldest fraternal organization. John Gustave Link and Joseph T. Carter designed this Beaux Arts styled temple for the Masons in 1902 with a golden brick facade on a rusticated stone base. Classical ornamentation includes Ionic pilasters, oval windows, and a dentil block cornice studded with lion heads. 

Temple/Fox/Mother Lode Theatre
316 Park Street at southeast corner of Washington Street

John Link came back in 1923 for the Masons, this time with Charles Haire as part of the celebrated architectural duo of Link and Haire, to design additional office space, ceremonial halls and the 1,200-seat Temple Theatre. All was contained in a monumental Neoclassical package. The Great Depression forced the masons to convert the stage into a movie house as the Fox Theatre. A recent $3 million renovation has seen the emergence of the opulent Mother Lode performing arts center.   

YMCA/Museum of Fine Arts
405 West Park Street at northwest corner of Washington Street

The cornerstone for this mammoth six-floor, 55,000 square foot multi-purpose facility was laid in 1917. National and international members and guests were treated to a two-story gymnasium with a cork-carpeted running track, a skylit swimming pool, bowling alley, banquet room and dormitories. The final bill of $350,000 was paid in full by contributions. Today the YMCA has been adapted for use as gallery and office space for the Butte Silver Bow Arts Foundation.


Patrick A. Largey Flats
403 West Broadway at northwest corner of Washington Street

Patrick A. Largey was the youngest of eleven children on an Ohio farm who began his work life teaching in rural schools. After leaving for Cincinnati he kept books, clerked in stores and made his way west as wagon train captain for his cousin’s freighting business. In Montana he dealt cattle, strung telegraph wires and engaged in the grocery trade. Largey opened the Butte Hardware Company in March 1881, which became the the foundation for an empire that included lumber and paper and mining interests, power plants and the Inter-Mountain Publishing Company. Largey was commonly referred to as the “fourth Copper King” until January 11, 1898 when a one-legged Thomas J. Riley, harboring a grudge from an explosion in one of the Butte Hardware Company warehouses that crippled him, walked into Largey’s State Savings Bank of Butte and shot him to death. The showcase Largey home once stood on this corner and next door they erected these three stylish Italian villas as rental property - waystations for wealthy families waiting for their own mansions to be completed. 

Charles Walker Clark Mansion/John McHatton Residence
northeast corner of West Broadway and Washington Street

Charles Walker Clark, eldest son of Copper King William Clark, orchestrated the construction of this opulent patterned brick house in 1898 after spying similar chateaus in France during his honeymoon. The mansion is trimmed in gray limestone and the dramatic turreted roofline is clad in slate. Clark squeezed his home into the corner next to the residence of John McHatton, a district judge before going to work for F. Augustus Heinze, heading his team of 37 lawyers in his legal squabble with the Anaconda Copper Mining Company that spawned as many as 133 concurrent lawsuits. Constructed in 1892 with only one story, the McHatton house fought back against its formidable neighbor with additional heft in 1905. 

John Benton Leggat Residence
401 West Granite Street at northwest corner of Washington Street

This sprawling Victorian home from 1897 represents the class of residence constructed one step down from the mine owners. John Benton Leggat was a mining engineer in charge of several properties on the “Richest Hill on Earth.” Leggat was a St. Louis native educated at Washington University there who came to Butte after graduation in 1890. When the Anaconda Copper Mining Company consolidated the mines in 1913, Leggat departed Butte and the stewardship of the property was turned over to Thomas J. Murray, a physician who ran a private hospital. 

Thomas Napton/Eugene Carroll House
315 West Granite Street at northeast corner of Washington Street

For thirty years in the middle of the 19th century the Italianate style, marked by elongated windows and bracketed eaves, was the go-to architectural form for two-story downtown buildings across America. This brick house from the 1880s was one of the last gasps for Italianate houses, with a well-crafted porch thrown in. The builder was Butte attorney Thomas Napton; Eugene Carroll of the Butte Water Company, moved his family in during 1897 and stayed for a half-century.


M.J. Connell House
301 West Granite Street at northwest corner of Idaho Street

This brick house was constructed in the French Second Empire style in 1880 for dry goods merchant Michael J. Connell. Local architect Charles Prentice was called in a decade later to add the elaborately jig-sawn Queen Anne porch and bay.