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.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Southern Hotel

By Richard I. Gibson

The north side of the first block of East Broadway held prominent hotels for many years (see this post on the Butte Hotel). In mid-block, at 41-43 East Broadway, the longtime lodging house was the Southern Hotel.

Cover of 1895 city directory. "Kum-c-me"
In 1884, the US Restaurant and Lodging House stood at this location, an elongate two-story wood building. By 1888, it had evolved into the Southern Hotel, with a hodgepodge of connected (and some disconnected) log buildings serving as rooms, attached to the core which was the old US Restaurant. By 1890, a new, narrow three-story building was erected west of the original two-story section. I believe, but I’m not certain, that this three-story structure forms the core of the existing CPA office on East Broadway.

This is a great example of a building whose story would be better told if we had some Sanborn maps from the mid-1890s. But we only have 1890, 1891, and 1900. It seems that the present building probably appeared about 1892, when a third story was likely added to the original two-story to the east, and it was connected to the three-story section on the west. The present façade probably appeared then, or perhaps a few years later. The advertisement above, from the 1890s, shows the hotel as if it were on a corner—which it was not, but the lot to the west was empty for a time after the three-story section was built, and the angled corner may reflect that original geometry. By 1900, the corner was square and the modern façade was almost certainly in place by then. The two sections are not identical, making the present façade asymmetrical, and there is a large light well separating the two sections behind the front.

Storefront beneath sidewalk (east section)
The first proprietor, Dan Tewey, was a miner who was in Butte by 1885 when he worked for the Montana Copper Company, the business incorporated in 1879 by the Lewisohn Brothers of New York. Tewey ran the hotel until around 1905. In 1910 William McCarthy and Harry Harms managed it; in 1928, the place was “furnished rooms” with Mrs. Margaret Loveland as proprietor. At various times, the Southern Hotel also used the upper floors of the Forbis Block to the east (today’s Uptown Café).

Masonry detail (west section)
In August 2013, the sidewalk was removed, in anticipation of filling in the vaulted space below. This revealed a spectacular under-the-sidewalk storefront, with cast-iron columns, windows, and doors. The differences between the eastern and western sections are noticeable: to the west, the vault is several feet narrower than the one to the east. Details of masonry show attention to detail, suggesting that this may have been one of the sub-sidewalk spaces that were retail storefronts with public access from the sidewalk, but there is no obvious evidence of descending stairways, nor do the old maps have any suggestion of such stairs (but the maps often omit such detail).

What is apparent is that these vaults, like most in Butte, were absolutely limited to the front of each building—there are solid granite block walls at either end of the vaults, as well as another at the join between the two buildings that constituted the Southern Hotel. There was no interconnection along the block, and like most of the vaults, they were private to the adjacent buildings. There was no promenade, no connected underground city with people coming and going as if they were on the surface.
No interconnections along the block.

The sidewalk repair removed some of the last surviving purple glass bricks in place in Uptown Butte. The owner has asked to keep them; there is at this writing some debate as to whether or not the vaults will be filled in (the plan at present) or preserved (my preference, of course, as well as that of Mr. Prigge, co-owner of the building). Stay tuned. But whatever happens, this work has revealed an outstanding example of a sub-sidewalk space. Check it out while you can.

UPDATE: August 26: The owner, Leo Prigge, indicates that as of now, barring some insurmountable engineering problem, these vaults will be preserved. Great news, and thanks to the Prigges and the URA which funds 90% of vaulted sidewalk restoration for following through and saving a very cool aspect of Butte history. Thanks also to Marissa Newman for advocacy!

August 2013
Resources: City Directories, Sanborn Maps (1884, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1900, 1916). Historic ads from City Directories; modern photos by Richard Gibson. News coverage.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sacred Heart

Original Church, school, and rectory at 444-448 East Park Street.
The first floor continued as the school after the 1912 fire.

by Richard I. Gibson

This post was stimulated by a Facebook discussion. The focus here is only on the buildings associated with Sacred Heart, and is based on a careful look at the addresses in the City Directories and the Sanborn maps. Click on images to enlarge

The Sacred Heart parish was organized in 1901. In 1901-03, they met at 460-464 East Park, probably the early address of the building that would become the church at 448 East Park when it was completed in 1903.

original altar (destroyed in fire)
The first mass, Christmas Day 1903, opened the completed church at 448 East Park Street, on the south side of the street almost directly across from the Wright’s Drug Store that is the only surviving building in this section of the block. The building included the school, and the rectory was next door (444 E. Park). In 1907-08, the Sacred Heart Convent was built at 407 East Mercury.

The church and school stood immediately east of the Lizzie Mine yard on Park, a mine that had ceased operations by 1916. The area is part of today's revitalization on the East Side.

After the 1912 fire
A fire on November 17, 1912, severely damaged the church, but the first floor survived and continued to be used as the parochial school until 1969; it was finally torn down about 1974 as the Anaconda Company bought up properties in anticipation of expanding the Berkeley Pit to this part of town (which obviously did not happen).

A new church was built a block west and across the street, at 355 East Park (address also given as 349-363), one lot west of the corner of Covert and Park Streets, a vacant lot today. It opened in 1913 and the last mass was celebrated in that church July 1, 1970. It was demolished in 1974-75.

New church, at 355 East Park
Resources: City Directories, 1901-1975; Sanborn maps, 1900, 1916, 1951; Butte's Croatian-Slovenian Americans, by Ann Simonich. The postcard photo of the first church is public domain, circa 1904-1910; the photo of the second church is courtesy of the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives, from the Jim & Helen Edwards Collection, used by permission. Fire photos from Anaconda Standard, Nov. 18-19, 1912. Many thanks to Irene Scheidecker at the Archives for assistance.