Butte Citizens for Preservation and Revitalization

P.O. Box 164, Butte, MT 59703

Lost Treasures: The Rape of Butte's History

Significant cultural losses due to theft of distinctive architectural elements and the destruction or demolition of historic or distinctive buildings and structures.

2008-09 Stained Glass Thefts

stained glass stolen from a duplex in Uptown Butte.

On or about December 16, 2008, a thief stole two stained glass windows in this same design from a duplex in Uptown Butte. A private party is offering a $150 reward to anyone with information that will lead to the recovery of those windows and the prosecution of the criminals.

Another theft occurred at 17 South Washington Street on January 28, 2009. Two stained glass windows were taken from their frames in a National Register listed building that was the former home of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, a group of Catholic nuns that came to Butte to establish Saint James Hospital in 1881.

Have you seen this stained glass panel?

Two panels like this, dating to 1899, were taken from Butte's Mountain View Methodist Church about 1980.

If you have, be aware that it is stolen property. Two panels like this, dating to 1899, were taken from Butte's Mountain View Methodist Church about 1980. If you have information about them, please contact law enforcement authorities.

Silver Bow Block

Butte's Silver Bow Block

Butte's Silver Bow Block, an elegant 5-story structure designed by renowned architect H.M. Patterson and erected in stages between 1890 and 1896, was destroyed by fire October 21, 1978. This treasure can't be recovered. (Image courtesy Butte-Silver Bow Archives)

A Treasure of a Different Sort

A Butte miner's Cottage

This miner's cottage at 516 W. Granite was demolished in 2005. BSB offered the property to interested developers after Butte Citizens for Preservation and Revitalization (Butte CPR) mounted a high-profile campaign to halt demolition, but the campaign was unsuccessful although it did raise awareness of the value of ALL historic properties in Butte.

Greek Cafe/Miners Union Bar/Tia Juana Chili

The Miners Union Bar building

In 1917, a two-story commercial building was erected at the corner of East Park and Wyoming streets. East Park Street at the time was a bustling commercial corridor, lined with shops and restaurants to serve Butte's large and diverse population. The building was designed from its start to house stores and a restaurant on its first floor: three shop fronts opened onto Park Street, and three onto Wyoming Street. The second floor was likely a fraternal hall for those of Greek descent-- no commercial businesses are listed there through years of city directories, but a Sanborn fire map shows "Greek Cafe 2nd floor" in bold letters. Read more...

Longfellow School demolished

the old Longfellow School building in Butte, MT

Declared surplus property by the Butte School Board in September, 2006, this 32,703-square-foot structure sits on about 2 acres of land. The central core of the building was erected in 1917, with wings added in the 1950s and 1960s. The address is 1629 Roosevelt, west of Harrison Ave. The building was used as a school until 2001, when it closed because of declining enrolments. It is one of only 15 properties in Silver Bow County that is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for various Federal Tax Credit and Abatement Programs for rehabilitation.

Another Butte school, Lincoln, was sold in 2004 for $16,000. The assessed value of the Longfellow School in 2006 was $41,280; the school district offered the property in 2003 for a minimum purchase price of $230,000, but there were no takers. Demolition cost is estimated at about $100,000. Alternatives to demolition would be preferable to Butte CPR. - Update, April 2007: The property was sold for $125,100 to a company in Nevada through a bid packet procedure with a minimum bid of $25,000. Glogam Corp. plans to rehabilitate the building. Update, May 2007: The deal fell through. - June 14, 2007 update: Local bidder is apparent new owner.

Detail of the archway over the main entrance to the Longfellow School in Butte, MT

A 2000 asbestos report, done while the school was in use, apparently found no serious problems, although asbestos-containing materials are present in many places in the structure. This report, dated June 30, 2006, for Butte School District #1, was prepared by Maxim Technologies, Inc., and should be obtainable from the School District. Contact J.R. Richardson, Business Manager, Butte-School District #1, 406-533-2503, richardsonjr@butte.k12.mt.us

The Longfellow School in Butte, MT

The photo at right shows the extent of the long wings at the back and sides of the structure (east wing shown), and detail of the entryway is shown above left.

Another theft reported: 2007 letter from a Butte resident

Letter from a Butte resident to the Montana Standard

It is with great dismay and sadness that I have experienced both travesty and tragedy. Here we are on the eve of a nation-wide "economic summit," for which the entire city of Butte has been reportedly asked to 'beautify' ourselves, when at the very same time the history of our city is again being stolen away in the dead of night.

Just this past early Friday morning (27 April 2007) or very late Thursday a black wrought-iron gate was stolen from an uptown Butte yard on the 700 block of West Broadway. The gate had stood sentinel on the property for over 100 years, quietly monitoring the comings and goings of a list of families dating back to the time of the Copper Kings' Reign. Most recently it had served to keep my dogs in my own yard, and free-ranging dogs OUT of my yard. Now the gate is gone. Stolen by thieves in the night. Cowards after a few bucks - assuredly for less money than the gate is worth to the property and the owner in terms of worth to the historical integrity of the house and property. And less money than such gates and fences are worth to the overall historical integrity of the City of Butte.

This is not the first report of such losses, and, I doubt, the last. I am only one of many homeowners to whom such loss has occurred - now five in the past month - though the only one on the block Thursday evening/Friday morning.

Help stop this loss. Please provide any information you may have about such thievery to the Butte Police. A reward is being offered by the owner for any information leading to the return of the the gate. The missing gate is approximately 36" square, with two tiers of spiraled strips of wrought iron which, together, form a series of heart-shapes stacked side-by-side, one series atop the other. The finials on the gate provided another 2-3 inches of decoration at the top. The small brass 'maker's mark' , just below the finials, is inscribed: "Chas. W. Lane, Maker, Butte, Montana."

Please stop the rape of our city's history.

Please return the gate.


J. Vos-Ferneau