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Power Block - Helena, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 35.358 W 112° 02.327
12T E 420423 N 5160050
Quick Description: Built in 1889, the Power Block was just one of several large commercial blocks which were being constructed at the time in the booming city of Helena.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 3/30/2019 6:14:44 PM
Waymark Code: WM10A3B
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Jake39
Views: 0

Long Description:
The Place:
The very impressive Power Block was built by the partnership of T.C. Power and M.H. Keefe. T. C. (Thomas Charles) Power, who became a United States Senator, was an ambitious entrepreneur who made a fortune in the emerging state of Montana, though many who knew him found it difficult or impossible to speak well of him. Little, if anything, is known of Keefe. The difference in stature of the two men can be deduced from the fact that the name plaque on the building reads Power Building, with no mention of Keefe, while contemporary news items referred to the building as the Power-Keefe Block.

Probably the best example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the city, of which there are many, the power block is very fortunate to be with us today. In 1908 Helena's last major fire destroyed the rest of the block on the west side of Last Chance Gulch to the south of the building, leaving only the Power Block standing, due, in all likelihood, to its thick stone walls. In 1908 and 1909 the rest of the block was filled back in with five stone and brick buildings, all of which still stand. Notice the rounded corner at the near corner of the building in the photo below. The number of windows in the corner equals the number of the storey on which they appear. This was once part of a long ago removed tower with a conical spire atop.

The Person:
One of the wealthiest early Montanans, Power came to be the preeminent mover and shaker in Montana's Capital, Helena. One of the first two senators from Montana, Power served in the United States Senate from January 2, 1890 to March 3, 1895. Born May 22, 1839 near Dubuque, Iowa, Power earned a degree in engineering from Sinsinawa College, working as a surveyor in Dakota until 1860. Engaging in trade along the Mississippi River, he eventually became president of a steamer line. From that enterprise he moved to Helena, establishing a mercantile company, T. C. Power and Bro, which did business throughout the northwestern United States and western Canada. As the country became more settled, he concentrated his efforts on the Helena area.

Among many other titles, T.C. Power was president of the American National Bank of Helena and in 1891 or 1892 he opened said bank in the building. We don't know if it was skullduggery and double dealing or simply ill fortune, but it was around this time that the bank found itself the defendant in more than one lawsuit. We don't know how long the bank remained in the building.

Power, who began as a trader in the Ft. Benton area, established T.C. Power & Bro., one of the two leading companies engaged in the Indian trade throughout northern Montana through the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. The company dominated regional freighting, steamboating, and mercantile interests during that period. After moving to Helena in 1875, Power invested heavily in Helena businesses, area mines and real estate interests. At the height of his career, Power erected not only the Power Block which bore his name, but four other major business blocks which dominated the commercial district. In 1892, he opened the American National Bank in the Power Block, one of several major banks which established Helena as the financial heart of Montana.
From the NRHP Registration Form
“Merchant prince” T. C. Power began freighting goods out of Fort Benton. Diverse business interests led to his control over much of territorial commerce and political success as the state’s first senator. The grand Power Block is evidence of the man’s powerful influence. Designed by Willetts and Ashley of Chicago, the Power Block represents the transition from Romanesque Revival to the Chicago School.
From the Helena Walking Tour

Photo goes Here
Power Block >> circa 1890
Photo goes Here
Power Block >> 2017

Year it was dedicated: 1889

Location of Coordinates: At the building

Related Web address (if available): [Web Link]

Type of place/structure you are waymarking: Building

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