by Richard I. Gibson
Butte was booming in 1890, with a surging population of at least 23,000, up from about 4,000 a decade earlier. New buildings by the score, together with the street cars and other traffic, made the corner of Granite and Main a busy place as the illustration by C. Winsor, above, shows.
Many of the buildings in this view survive. Most of the west side of the 100 block of North Main below Granite is buildings dating to before 1884, damaged but not destroyed by a devastating fire in 1889. The corner building, D.J. Hennessey’s three-story mercantile, was his third location. He began his business a ways down Main, above Broadway, but by 1889 was leasing space in the 2-story O’Rourke building on the corner. It burned down in the 1889 fire, and was replaced within a year by the 3-story structure in the image above, which survives to this day. The Hennessey Building we know today, across the street, was Hennessey’s 4th location. It’s hard to see in the image, but the site of today’s Hennessey is an almost vacant lot in the drawing. The Centennial Hotel that stood there had burned down in 1888, and in 1891 the corner was occupied by five little shacks, each measuring about 10 feet by 20 feet. They housed a newsstand, a tailor, a fruit seller, a clothier, and a meat market.
Connell’s store, where Hennessey got his start in Butte, is at the far right in the upper image, left in lower image. Although the 5-story corner tower is gone, it’s my understanding that the heart of the present-day NorthWestern Energy building there is still this original building. The Marchesseau and Valiton Block (better known as the Beaver Block) at far left (right in lower image) is gone, lost to demolition and fire in 1968.
For much more information about Daniel Hennessey, see Zena Beth McGlashan’s book, Buried in Butte. Image from “A general view of Butte,” drawn by C. Winsor, circa 1891 (its source, the Montana Memory Project, says this is 1887, but it cannot be earlier than 1890).