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.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Iona Cafe and Pincus Building

By Richard I. Gibson
Iona Cafe (left), Pincus Building (right) in 2012
The Iona Café at 16 South Main Street is for sale.  It generated some buzz on the Building Butte Facebook page, so herewith is some historic background on it and the adjacent Pincus Building.

In 1909, baker Joseph W. Boulet established his bakery at 72 East Park, part of the Ivanhoe Block erected in 1905 and still standing. Boulet’s manager, Carroll Cornelius, lived upstairs in the Ivanhoe, while Boulet lived in a home at 1131 South Arizona, a duplex represented by a vacant lot today. A fire at the bakery and Iona Cafe at 72 E. Park (the address has changed), on Dec. 29, 1913, led to the business moving to South Main St.

State Cafe (left), Pincus Building (right), 1979
In 1914, the first building permit was issued for the building at 16 S. Main that would become the Iona Café. It began as a one-story building, but the second floor was added before 1916; the original building cost $4,000. The Iona Baking Company and the Iona Café, both run by Joseph Boulet, occupied the building by 1915. The entry tiles naming the Iona still survive.

The Iona Baking Company lasted until 1917, but that year the café became the State Café, managed by George Buller, who roomed at 26 East Park (US Bank and parking lot today). The ghost sign on the north side of the Iona, “Flor de Baltimore,” promotes a brand of cigar.

The Pincus Building south of the Iona is named for Adolph Pincus, an entrepreneur who dabbled in real estate, sold cigars, ran a copper precipitation plant, and referred to himself as a “capitalist,” which in those days pretty much meant an investor. Pincus built the second Thomas Block in 1913 to the design of architect Herman Kemna (see page 56 of Lost Butte), but in 1893-94 he was having the building constructed on South Main that bears his name. It was originally a saloon and pawn shop, and over time it has contained a restaurant and various stores, including (in 1928) the Butte Saddlery Company whose ghost sign survives on the south face of the Building.

State Cafe (left), Pincus Building (right), 1979
Pincus was born in Germany in 1859 and came to the U.S. in 1880. He died in 1929, and both he and his wife Hattie (1869-1932) are buried in B’nai Israel Cemetery in Butte. In 1928 they lived at 541 West Park (at Crystal), today the parking lot for the Hummingbird Cafe.
Front door, State Cafe, 1979
Click to enlarge

Robert Nickel was Pincus’ architect for the building. Nickel was only in Butte from about 1891-96, but his mark remains, in both the Pincus Building and the Haller Block at 605 West Park, today’s Hummingbird Café (see the Building Butte Facebook page cover photo). Nickel lived in a little miner’s cottage at 522 West Granite, which I can see out my window as I type this.

Photos: historic photos are from 1979 HAER survey of Butte, via Library of Congress and are public domain, photos probably by Jet Lowe. Modern photo (2012) by Dick Gibson.

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