By means of the elevator one can take a short cut to the top of a sky scraper and come down again without putting forth a greater effort than tossing a “jolly” to the elevator boy, who designates the up and down trips as the “rise and fall of man.” —Anaconda Standard, December 21, 1902.
The first elevator in Butte was installed in Connell’s store on the northwest corner of Granite and Main. The building there was erected about 1884 as a two-story building. The first elevator was installed in 1887, serving just the two stories from a location near the northeastern corner of the building. By 1891, the owners had added a third floor and a 5-story turret facing the corner of Granite and Main, and the elevator was moved to the western end of the building where it served the three main floors and probably the basement as well.
|Butte's first elevator was installed in the Connell Store (at left above) in 1887. It was in the west part of the building, off to the left. Building to right is the Beaver Block (Marchesseau & Valiton). Image by C. Winsor, circa 1891.|
Over the next 15 years, 14 more elevators were installed in Butte. By 1902, the elevator in the 5-story (plus basement) Owsley Block (Medical Arts Center) was making “1,000 trips a day,” every day except Sunday. Elevators also serviced the Thornton Hotel (built 1901), the original 3-story Finlen Hotel, the Butte Hotel, Miner Building, and Symons Store (in buildings that burned in 1905, where the present Phoenix Building was built in 1906). The 1890-91 Silver Bow and Lewisohn Blocks (parking lot on West Granite across from Montana Standard) each had its own, and the Hennessy Building had two, with the largest elevator cars in town.
The elevator in the Hirbour Tower, serving eight stories and basement, was the highest elevator in a Butte building in 1902. Refurbished, that elevator serves the condos on the upper floors of the Hirbour Tower today.
Resources: Anaconda Standard, Dec. 21, 1902; Sanborn maps; City Directories. Image from “A general view of Butte,” drawn by C. Winsor, circa 1891 (Montana Memory Project says this is 1887, but it cannot be earlier than 1890).