Of The 1600 Locations On The Register Of Historic Places In MT, How Many In Butte?
Growing up in Butte, the terms ‘Historic District’ and ‘National Register of Historic Places’ are things we hear a lot.
According to the National Park Service website, The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. The National Register recognizes more than 90,000 properties for their significance in American history, architecture, art, archeology, engineering, and culture.
According to the Montana State Library, there are over 1600 Historic Places in the state of Montana, with 11 locations in Butte, and the largest National Historic Landmark in the West. That landmark is the Butte-Anaconda Historic District.
The Landmark covers over 10,000 acres, with over 6,000 contributing resources during the timeframe of 1876-1934. From the beginnings of mining on the Butte hill, through the copper kings, to forming the unions before and after the New Deal. Butte, Walkerville and Anaconda have significantly intertwined histories of mining and labor. The Butte – Anaconda Historic District was placed on the Register on October 15, 1966.
Now for a looking at the 11 landmarks on the list.
The Federal Building U.S. Court House, (former U.S. Post Office) 400 North Main St. was placed on the Register on November 15, 1979. The original application for the Courthouse was 47 pages long describing the building in its entirety. One entry in the application stood out “The Berkley Pit copper mine begins just 2 blocks from the building although an early drawing indicates the presence of a 162 feet deep tunnel measuring 8 feet wide and 7 feet high traverses under the original building.”
The W.A. Clark Mansion- The construction of the Copper King Mansion started in 1884, and took four years to complete, at an approximate cost of $260,000. Built by William A. Clark, the three-story 30-room mansion is an example of architecture termed “modern Elizabethan”. The Copper King Mansion was listed on the Register on October 6, 1970. If you have never taken a tour, I urge you do so.
The Charles W. Clark Mansion- The mansion was constructed in 1898-99 for the oldest son of William Clark, Charles. Charles was born in 1871, and graduated from Yale in 1893. Charles was censured for alleged bribery related to his father’s bid for the U.S Senate in 1899. The Clark Chateau was added to the Registry on October 22, 1976. The Chateau is also thought of as one of the most haunted buildings in Butte.
The Burton K. Wheeler House- 1232 E. Second Street. In 1905 Burton Wheeler, a New England attorney arrived in Butte on a train. The story goes he got off to stretch his legs, and lost all his money in a poker game, so he stayed here. Wheeler and his wife, Lulu purchased the home in 1908. Wheeler served as a state legislator, and federal district attorney while in Butte. He was elected to the Senate in 1922 and moved to Washington D.C. He ran for vice president in 1934 on the Progressive ticket.
Socialist Hall, 1957 Harrison Avenue. – or Fran Johnson’s. The Socialist Hall went on the Register on April 28, 1995. The design was described as “The design and intent are vividly represented, including such important details as the decorative brickwork, inscriptions, and party symbols. Overall Socialist Hall retains it’s original integrity in location, design, materials, and most importantly the feeling it conveys when you read the inscription “Socialist Hall”
The Silver Bow County Poor Farm Hospital- Or as we know it today NCAT. The Hospital was listed on July 15, 1981. The Silver Bow Poor Farm Hospital was built in 1902 and is significant because it is the only known remaining Poor Farm structure left in the state. During Montana’s territorial period, the counties were directed to care for the poor and empower them to construct hospitals, establish poor farms, and grant relief. The Poor Farm continued to operate until the mid-1930’s, when state law changed the care for the poor, to our current system of welfare.
Longfellow Grade School and Hawthorne Grade School. The one-story, U-shaped structures were both constructed in 1917 and (initial footprints) were exact duplicates of one another. Both schools contained 6 rooms, in a U-shape with all of the rooms built on the outer walls for better ventilation and illumination. Both were placed on the Register on January 24, 1988.
Madison Grade School- 45 East Greenwood. Much like the Longfellow and Hawthorne schools, the Madison Grade School was constructed in 1917 but was built to replace the ‘first’ Madison School. The first Madison was built in 1986 and was replaced because of the inadequacies of the original building (no modern plumbing), and also the original building had fire damage.
Schafer’s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church- 602 South Idaho. Erected in 1901, the Chapel has stood as a cornerstone and conduit for African American life in Butte and beyond. The church was a locus for political activism and education outreach in the south-central Butte Community. Schafer's Chapel was laced on the register, January 24, 1988.
Matt’s Place Drive-In. Matt’s was built in 1929, and was established as a Drive-In in 1930, the first drive-in in Montana. Matt’s was at the forefront of the revolutionary drive-in restaurants that swept the nation in the 1930s. ( I wrote about Matt’s, which is currently up for sale, you can read that HERE.)
To find out more about these sites and others, you can fall into the rabbit hole HERE.