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.



Friday, November 23, 2012

The Mantle & Bielenberg Block - 1. Unions

by Richard I. Gibson

West Broadway was a busy place in the late 1890s. In 1897, 17 unions met at Pioneer Hall, Bricklayers Hall, or elsewhere inside the Mantle & Bielenberg block (today home to Sassy Consignments and Sales):

Mantle & Bielenberg Block (at right) in 1979
  • Brewers – every Sunday
  • Typographers – first Sunday
  • Musicians – second Sundays
  • Operative Plasterers – every Monday
  • Iron Moulders – second and fourth Mondays
  • Plumbers, Gas & Steam Fitters – every Monday
  • Pioneer Assembly, Knights of Labor – every Monday
  • Building Laborers – every Tuesday
  • International Association of Machinists – second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Tin, Sheet Iron, and Cornice workers – every Wednesday
  • Mill & Smeltermen – every Wednesday
  • Butchers – every Thursday
  • Printers and Decorators – every Thursday
  • Bricklayers and Masons – every Friday
  • Building Trades – every Saturday
  • Bakers – second and fourth Saturdays
  • Quarrymens Union – time not specified

15 other unions met variously at Miners Union Hall, Good Templars (on Broadway), Carpenters Union Hall, Columbia Block (Broadway), Scandinavian Hall (Quartz at Alaska), and other locations.

This post was started as a comprehensive report on the M&B Building, but, as John Muir wrote, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." The same in Butte. As I began researching Nick Bielenberg, the spider-like connections became evident: he was half-brother to Conrad Kohrs of Grant-Kohrs Ranch fame, who in turn was connected to Harry D’Acheul. And guess what – Nicholas Bielenberg was Alma Higgins’ father. So the rest of this interesting and complex story—including both Bielenberg and the M&B Block itself, together with the Creamery CafĂ© that occupied it—will come sometime in the future.

Photo from HABS/HAER survey, 1979, via Library of Congress (public domain). Union meeting information from Butte Bystander, January 8, 1897.

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