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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Harry D'Acheul and Kennedy Furniture Company

By Richard I. Gibson

Click any image to enlarge.

Parapet at 18-20 West Broadway today.
The parapet today says “Christie 1932,” but this building is much older than that. In the historic image here the sign says “D’Acheul 1890,” reflecting its origin. Harry D’Acheul, born in Missouri about 1845 to parents native to France, partnered with Prussian-born Henry Parchen to establish a prominent drug store in Butte that operated for many years at 32 North Main. The D’Acheul Drug Company in 1891 advertised that they were importers of assayers’ materials and dealers in paints, oils, varnish, and window glass. (Vignette of D’Acheul Drug Co. store from an invoice in Columbia University Avery Architecture & Fine Arts Library, 1891.)
32 N. Main, 1891
Parchen-D’Acheul had a store in Helena as well, where D’Acheul acquired a house at 804 Dearborn from its owner, Joseph Russell, who suffered financial reverses. D’Acheul then rented it to Conrad and Augusta Kohrs, who bought that house in 1900. In Butte, D’Acheul’s principal construction investment beyond his own business may have been the 1890 four-story business block at 18-20 West Broadway (sometimes given as 22-26 W. Broadway), today part of Jeff Francis’ Piccadilly Museum complex. It originally had a cast-iron ground-floor store front, visible in the historic photo below (from Freeman, 1900). Christie’s was the furniture company here beginning in 1932.

18-20 W. Broadway, 1900

1894 ad
In the 1890s the D’Acheul Block housed the Kennedy Furniture Company on all four floors. By 1900 Kennedy boasted “the most complete line of furniture to be found, probably, in the Northwest” (Freeman, 1900). Kennedy Furniture began in 1894, successor to the Northwestern Furniture Company. In addition to rooms chock-full of chairs, they carried hundreds of carpets, rugs, and tapestries. The ad here, from December 1894, shows a ladies’ desk—expensive at $9.35 but “worth $15.” The interconnected nature of Butte’s business community is reflected in the annotation of Henry Mueller, Vice President of Kennedy Furniture. He was also President of Butte’s largest brewery, the Centennial, and Mayor of Butte in 1891. Mueller lived at 218 West Park. His son Arthur, a later Centennial President, lived at 803 West Park and had the Mueller Apartments on Granite Street built in 1917 as an investment.

1894 ad
Harry D’Acheul was elected in October 1882 to serve as a director of W.A. Clark’s Moulton Mining Company, which in its first nine months of operation had produced $300,000 in bullion; as of October 21, 1882, the Engineering & Mining Journal reported that they had 10,000 cords of wood on hand. In 1884 D’Acheul was also co-owner of Butte’s first public electric plant on East Mercury Street, together with W.A. Clark, Patrick Largey, John Caplice, and W.M. Young. The investors had formed the Brush Electric Light and Power Company of Butte in 1882. The company initially generated power at the Burlington Mill, supplying electricity to first illuminate the business district with 25 light bulbs on December 6, 1882. One of those lamps was in Parchen & D’Acheul’s drug store. Two years later Parchen-D’Acheul’s store was the locale where Butte residents came to see the power of the then-new Brush-Swan Incandescent Lamp, which promised to be a bulb suited for general household use.

311 W. Granite, D'Acheul House
Harry and Hattie D’Acheul’s home still stands at 311 (313) West Granite. See this later post for a report on the 1912 fire that destroyed the original Parchen-D'Acheul store at 32 N. Main.

Image sources: Ads, Montana Standard, Dec. 31, 1894, from Library of Congress; Kennedy Furniture/D’Acheul Block from Freeman, 1900, A Brief History of Butte, Montana (scan by Butte Public Library); D’Acheul Drug vignette from an invoice in Columbia University Avery Architecture & Fine Arts Library, 1891; “Christie 1932” and D’Acheul House photos by Dick Gibson.


  1. Curiously, Dick, just this week at the Archives I started trying to sort out old daybooks and ledgers that came out of the building at 42 W. Broadway, which was operating as the Chauvin Furniture Company at around the same time as Kennedy Furniture. This building later became Oechsli (Oxley) Furniture and hardware, then Geo. Steele appliances. I know at least some of the books I have to straighten out are from Kennedy Furniture...

  2. My name is joey Parchen and henry Parchen was my first Montana relative. I'd like some more info on the butte store if you have it. Please email me at jparchen@gmail.com