Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What was there? Dakota between Broadway and Park

1901 image; scanned by BSB Public Library. Looking SW.
By Richard I. Gibson

Today the west side of this block is a parking lot to the south and a building occupied by Western Montana Mental Health, at 106 West Broadway, on the north. The space has a long history, of course, as do most blocks in Historic Uptown Butte.

Many older residents probably recall the 1972 Penney’s fire that created the parking lot here. The 4-story Penney’s building had been built there by 1916, when three different stores occupied the first floor, including wholesale liquors and a trunk repair shop. The rest of what is now the parking lot was filled in 1916 by four more retail establishments, including a photographer, a restaurant, and a dealer in prints, wallpaper, and picture frames. The foundation of the mental health building is actually that of the old Butte Public Library, partially destroyed in a fire March 27, 1960. The top floor and turret were removed or destroyed but much of the existing building today is the old library.

In 1900 Dakota Street was called Academy, and the library occupied the northern section of the block, with the 3-story Harvard Block right next door on Broadway. The Harvard Block was a boarding house with a printer’s shop in the basement. Today’s parking lot portion was largely a vacant lot in 1900, but the northwest corner of the Academy-Park intersection held three tiny (each approximately 12’x12’) brick-veneered stores and a shed. The northeast corner of what is now the parking lot, facing Academy at the alley, was occupied by a bicycle sales and repair shop.

Nine years earlier, 1891, the entire eastern three-quarters of the block along Academy, from Broadway to Park, held the Butte Public School and its surrounding grounds, visible in this previous post. The school was built before the fall of 1884. Prior to its construction, it’s likely that a few cabins occupied the block but there is no good documentation for this.

Image from Western Resources Magazine, 1901 (public domain). Scanned by Butte-Silver Bow Public Library.

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