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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paving Harrison

by Richard I. Gibson

From the 1910s onward, Butte issued Special Improvement District (SID) bonds to finance various projects, just as most cities do. People would buy the bonds, to be repaid with interest over time.

The bond here, courtesy of Robert Edwards, was issued to John Hexem on May 8, 1925, in the amount of $100. The bond generated Mr. Hexem $6.00 annually (6% interest) that was paid when he redeemed the coupons associated with the bond, theoretically until 1933, but this bond’s final balloon payment was in 1929, suggesting that the city was doing well.

SID 323, authorized by Ordinance #1790, August 16, 1924, was for the paving of Harrison Avenue and installing a storm sewer system there. The 46 pages of specifications for the project (used in letting the bids), at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives, include estimates of “approximately” 38,525.73 square yards of Rodamite paving two inches thick; 8,176.33 cubic yards of grading; a total of 4,530 linear feet of storm sewer ranging in diameter from 8 inches to 15 inches; 24 concrete catchbasins about 6 feet deep, and one standard manhole.

The work extended from Grand to Harvard on Harrison and included construction of intersections and curbs. This was almost certainly not the first time Harrison was paved (and definitely not the last!), but I have not yet verified when the first paving occurred, nor have I found the cost. Watch for that in a future post.

John Hexem was a contractor (could he have had an interest in the project beyond that of an investor in the bonds?) whose office and home were at 1941 Harrison, just north of the Socialist Hall (Fran Johnson’s Sports Shop today) and right in the middle of this paving project. His home was built after 1916, so it was fairly new when he made his bond investment in 1925.

The bond is signed by the Mayor, City Clerk, and City Treasurer. Mayor William D. Horgan lived at 211 S. Jackson (still standing); clerk Con J. Harrington lived at the Goldberg Block, run by Mrs. Alice Wilson at the northwest corner of Park and Dakota Streets, the building that became the J.C. Penney store and burned down in 1972; and Treasurer Joseph C. Riley lived at 611 N. Wyoming, a little house due east of the Steward Mine and gone today.

Thanks to Robert Edwards for the bond.


  1. Dick, I really enjoyed this trip in the Harrison Ave Way-Back Machine. Love what you're doing here on the blog. I have no idea why I wasn't already subscribed to the blog updates before....but I'm subscribed now. Thanks for all you do for Butte.

    1. Thanks David! For those who arrive here, see also David's blog about books - especially his debut novel, Fobbit: http://davidabramsbooks.blogspot.com/