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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The first house in South Butte

by Richard I. Gibson

You might think that 217 South Wyoming would lie between Mercury and Silver Streets, and you’d be right—but in the 1880s and early 1890s there was another 217 South Wyoming, between Second and Third Streets in South Butte. South Butte was separate and distinct from Butte, with its own street address system and its own population accounting until about 1895.

That house at 217 S. Wyoming, later 919 S. Wyoming, was built at Blackfoot City and moved into South Butte in 1883 by John H. McQueeney, establishing the first residence in that neighborhood. McQueeney was born in 1843 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Irish immigrants, Patrick and Catherine (nee McHugh) who took young John (second of eight children and the only survivor in 1900) with them to Chicago in 1854. After working in various Chicago businesses including ink manufacturing, about 1880 John headed west and became a cashier with the Utah & Northern Railroad (the first railroad into Butte, in 1881). He arrived in Butte in 1883 and established a transfer company or delivery service. He did well, allowing him to expand into real estate and other investments.

943 S. Wyoming (at Second St.): gone today.
The pre-1891 house at right (with the bluish roof) survives.
By 1898 McQueeney’s success took him a few lots south of his first Butte home, to 943 S. Wyoming (northwest corner with Second St.). This large two-story house with its jerkin-headed gable was his home for many years; the post-card photo here shows it to have been one of the more prestigious homes in South Butte.

In 1916, McQueeney’s original house at 919 S. Wyoming was gone, replaced by stables and a corral associated probably with his transfer company. The big house on the corner, 943 S. Wyoming, was lost sometime after 1957, but elements of the retaining wall survive, recalling the unusually spacious yard. In 1928, John and Isabella McQueeney's son Frederick was still living in the house at 943 and managing the McQueeney Transfer and Storage Company.

So far as I can determine, John McQueeney has no connection with the name of the McQueen neighborhood.

Thanks to Pat Armstrong for guidance and for the initial question, and for the image of the house at 943 S. Wyoming (via Jean Johanson). Additional resources: Progressive Men of the State of Montana (1901); city directories at Butte Archives; Sanborn maps.

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