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. Many of these blog posts have been converted to podcast episodes, available at KBMF.

Monday, March 5, 2012

West Broadway 1884

from the 1884 Bird’s-Eye View via Library of Congress
By Richard I. Gibson

The south side of the first block of West Broadway includes some old buildings – but only one survives from 1884. The IOGT (Independent Order of Good Templars, an anti-alcohol fraternal organization that admitted women) Hall is the two-story building at right in the illustration here, and it’s the only remnant from that time still standing today. The third floor was added in 1891. Two doors down (off the right edge of the picture), the IOOF (Odd Fellows) hall had its foundation laid by September 1884, and it’s another long-term survivor in this block.

The IOGT hall included a stage in the basement and a dwelling on the first floor. It and the restaurant-saloon in mid-block and the prestigious bank at the corner of Main all had slate roofs, while all the others seen here had wooden shingles. Most of these buildings were “cloth lined,” meaning that their frame walls were insulated only by a lining of canvas. Hart & Lavelle’s livery stable had a basement with stone walls on two sides, and the bank had a stone basement.

The Donnell, Clark & Larabie bank occupied the first floor at the corner of Broadway and Main (where D.A. Davidson is today), with offices above and a barber and bathhouse in the basement where they had their own large boiler. The cornice was metal, probably tin. This building lasted until 1916, and its 1916 replacement was in turn replaced
in the 1960s by the building there today.

Robert Donnell was expanding his Deer Lodge bank in 1877, with a new branch in Butte, where the 25x100 lot at the corner of Broadway and Main cost $1,400 on April 18, 1877. Donnell’s clerks, W.A. Clark and S.E. Larabie, took charge of the Butte branch and became the owners when another Donnell venture failed, in New York in 1884. Clark’s fortune began in this bank when he took some mine property, including the Travona, in lieu of loan payments, and an uninterested Larabie took a band of horses in exchange for his half interest in the mines.

Photo by Robert Edwards
Recent (January 2012) construction work from the parking lot at Quartz and Alaska, to Broadway (in front of the IOGT Hall), Park, and Galena streets focuses on a pre-1884 underground water-sewer line similar to the picture here by Robert Edwards. Before mining and building altered the landscape, that line was a flowing stream that came down the hill from the Centerville area, about where Alaska Street is today. South of Granite to Galena, most of that stream had been converted to an underground culvert by Summer 1884, but it was still a ditch or open sewer below Galena Street. North of Granite was a slightly different story—fodder for a later post.


  1. You can imagine how cold and flammable were those buildings. The underground stream is intriguing--is it perennial, with water still flowing through the culvert?

    1. Pat, so far as I know, there is water there, I think but am not sure that the recent work was to install modern pipes within them - something like that.