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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Was There? 69-71 West Broadway

By Richard I. Gibson

Although later Sanborn maps say the building that stood here was built in 1898, the 1900 map shows three vacant 1- and 2-story dwellings “damaged by fire,” and I believe that the 5-story Miner Building was erected in late 1900 and 1901. News reports have the foundation being dug in August 1900. At about the same time, the Butte Miner also constructed a smaller building further west, at 121-125 West Broadway, to serve as corporate offices, and the two new buildings together replaced the small one at 27 W. Broadway, which the Miner had certainly outgrown by 1901. The Miner used 121-123-125 W. Broadway as its masthead address starting December 1, 1901, when they ran a front-page announcement of the “new and enlarged Miner.”

Deseret News, Aug. 28, 1900
The Miner Building was built like a skyscraper, with a steel frame supporting concrete floors and the roof. In addition to editorial offices, this was the printing headquarters for not only the Butte Miner, but other publications that used the Miner’s equipment. One example is the Montana Catholic, published from here in the early 1900s. The building also housed offices for accountants and attorneys.

In 1928, three years after W.A. Clark died, the squabbling among his heirs was over, and his son Will (W.A. Clark, Jr.) had lost. All of Clark’s assets, including the Butte Miner and its two buildings, went to the Anaconda Company, and the Anaconda Standard newspaper took over the Miner; the combined paper became the Montana Standard which had offices in this building into the early 1960s.

Toward the end in 1928, all of Clark’s surviving companies had their offices here, including the Elm Orlu Mining Co., Timber Butte Milling Co., Moulton Mining, the Clark Law Library, Clark-Montana Realty Co., and the Butte Electric Railway Co. (the trolley service), in addition to the Butte Miner. All were headed by W.A. Clark, Jr., in 1928 until the August takeover by Anaconda, and most were on the upper floors of this building.

Immediately to the west (left in photo at top) was the Empress Theater* which burned in 1931 and was demolished in 1935 to create a pass-through gateway for Greyhound buses. The Miner Building was demolished in 1965 to expand the bus pull-through, and the present parking structure was built in the early 1990s after the bus station moved.

*second of that name; originally the Lulu, then called the Orion; renamed the Empress when the Empress across the street, in the Maguire Opera House building, burned in 1912; the opera house was replaced by the Leggat Hotel.

Resources: Montana Catholic, January 21, 1905 (photo); Deseret News, Aug. 28, 1900 (article); city directories; Sanborn maps. The story of newspapers in Montana history is told in Dennis Swibold's book, Copper Chorus.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Greeley School

Silver Bow Park neighborhood
Thornton Street at Park Place
Built: c. 1898

Greeley School was built along with many others in Butte as a response to the exploding population in the late 1890s. First through Eighth Grades were taught at Greeley in its early years. Following are some of the staff at Greeley in 1905 and 1910, revealing a diversity of origins, and residences scattered all over town.

  • Principal Mary Moran, Montana native, 15 years experience (13 in Butte)
  • Marguerite McDonald (New York), 6 years experience (4 in Butte), graduated State Normal School, Winona Minn.
  • Bertha Konen (Illinois), 3 years (7 months Butte)
  • Annie Moses (Michigan), 1 year (7 months Butte)
  • Kathleen McDonald (Michigan), 5 (3)
  • Bessie Vaughn (Wisconsin), 2, (7 mo.)
  • Ida Hillas (Ontario), 13 (3)
  • Harriet Ballon (Zanesville, Ohio), 17 (3)

In 1910, only one teacher from 1905 was still at Greeley:

Principal Kate Stafford. Teachers: Anna Sennett, Elsa Fasel, Mary Harrington, Ada Myersick, Fannie Spooner, Alice Maguire, Kathleen McDonald. Janitor: John Boyd.

John Boyd the Janitor lived at 525 W. Silver. Principal Kate Stafford roomed in the Pennsylvania Block on Park Street. Ada Myersick roomed at 1212 E. Second St. Kathleen McDonald – 606 W. Park. Fannie Spooner – 207 W. Park.  Mary Harrington – 185 E. Center. Elsa Fasel roomed at The Dorothy (corner of Granite and Wyoming).

Alice Maguire – 807 W. Galena (with Mary (widow of John), Nellie, and Grace. Perhaps Mary was the mother of three sisters, all of whom were teachers). Anna Sennett – 411 W. Quartz, where she lived with Helen Sennett, teacher at Emerson, along with other Sennetts: James – clerk Hennessy’s; John – miner; Mary – stenographer; Nora (widow Michael) – grocer 306 N. Jackson. 411 W. Quartz was a busy place for such a small home!

Third Graders at the Greeley School in 1905 were to be able to answer these questions:
How were the canyons and gulches formed? What would the level valley south of town indicate? What are sand, clay, loam, alluvium? Note.—Some of the most common properties of the minerals (quartz, feldspar and mica) could be taught here with profit.
On the subject of language,
The chief result to be obtained from the study of language is power of expression rather than a knowledge of grammar. The power of expression, however, is useless unless one has something to express. In this branch of work it follows, therefore, that the activities are two-fold, (1) the getting of knowledge, and (2) the proper facility in giving expression thereto.

Third graders would read Robinson Crusoe.

Greeley had served as a community center for several years before it closed in 2004. After several years of discussion among the Butte School District, County Commissioners, and the Public Housing Authority, with nothing coming of it, in 2013 the school was sold to Doug Ingraham who plans to try to save the historic building and return it to viable use.

Resources: Annual Report of the Board of Education and City Superintendent of Schools, Vol. 18, 1905; digitized by Butte Public Library (source of photo).