By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies as provided in our policy.

Hirbour Block - Butte Anaconda Historic District - Butte, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 00.834 W 112° 32.140
12T E 381119 N 5096738
Quick Description: Montana's first skyscraper, the Hirbour Block was only the second skyscraper to be built west of Minneapolis and St. Louis.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 2/8/2018 4:54:38 PM
Waymark Code: WMXPH7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member QuesterMark
Views: 1

Long Description:
While mighty small by today's standards, the Hirbour Block was mighty tall when completed in 1901. Built by S. Emanuel Hirbour as an investment, it otherwise followed the standard scheme of the day, with commercial space on the ground floor, and in this unusual case, also the basement, with office space above.

The first steel beam framed building to be built in Butte, or anywhere in Montana, for that matter, this construction method allowed it to tower over its neighbours. It would appear that, prior to the construction of the Hirbour Block, the property was occupied by a single storey wood framed saloon. In 1886 Hirbour was manager of a saloon which was an outlet for the Silver Bow Brewery which may be the selfsame saloon. Hirbour was also mentioned as being the bookkeeper for the brewery.

Butte's exploding population demanded more and more retail spaces, and the below-the-sidewalk storefront in the Hirbour's basement is the best preserved example. The basement was initially home to the Salvation Army. A courier company occupied the space until about 1928 when the Hirbour Barber Shop began a 35-year tenancy, probably ending about 1962 after the devastating six-month strike in all the mines in 1959 — another blow in Butte's economic decline.

Today, access to this historic underground space is preserved thanks to a Butte-Silver Bow decision in 2003 to repair the vaulted sidewalk while maintaining the stairway.
From the Montana Standard

Not a lot is known of Emmanuel Stanislas Hirbour (aka Stanislas E. Hirbour). Married to Marie Trudeau of Richelieu, Quebec, Hirbour was noted as being one of the seven commissioners named to set up an election for Butte when the 11th session of the territorial legislature granted a special charter to the City of Butte on February 21, 1879. This means that Hirbour, a native of Marieville, Quebec, had arrived in Butte by 1879, at the latest. There, he was listed in a census as a land speculator. Hirbour died June 11, 1899 at the age of either 58 or 59. Funeral notices note his age as 58, while a cemetery listing has him being 59. He is interred in Butte's St. Patrick's Cemetery, a predominantly Irish Catholic cemetery.

Hirbour Block

Research indicates that this eight-story building is the second skyscraper (steel girder construction) west of Minneapolis and St. Louis (the first is the Call Building in San Francisco, erected in 1898). The building measures 58 by 28 feet and is about 90 feet tall. The basement, accessed through the public stairwell into the vaulted sidewalk, was the best-preserved sub-sidewalk storefront in Butte. Vaulted sidewalks were supported by brick or granite walls and floored with dirt or planks and contained grids of glass prisms to focus light into the vaults (a few survive on the South side of West Broadway Street near the Leggatt Hotel). The space here, restored to the 1928-69 Hirbour Barber Shop, was initially home to the Salvation Army, followed by a courier company (c. 1905-1928). The “secret” back room provided access to the rest of the building and was used as a private drinking establishment for the barber’s customers as recently as the 1950s; it was probably established during Prohibition at about the time the barber shop opened in 1928. The restored barber shop was removed in 2015 to make way for renovation of the basement for other uses.

The tower contains a cast-iron staircase as well as cast iron window casements on the ground floor. Emanuel Hirbour, who died before his building was finished, is memorialized in the terra cotta “H” emblems on the street-level façade. Although the two-story buildings to the north were present when the Hirbour was built, the north wall of the tower is essentially windowless, presumably in anticipation of later high-rise construction there. At least three different advertising signs occupied that wall over time, but all are faded to invisibility today. As was typical in Butte, the first floor was devoted to retail and the upper floors were offices.

In 2012-13, the building was renovated to create condominiums on each of the upper floors.
From the Butte-Anaconda Historic District Blog


Less than a decade after the skyscraper made its debut in Chicago, the new technology of steel frame and curtain wall construction was employed in Butte. This engineering principle, coupled with use of the elevator, allowed the Hirbour Block to tower over other masonry structures in the district. Owner S. Emanuel Hirbour constructed Butte's first skyscraper in 1901, housing a first-floor grocery with rooms to let above."H" medal-lions at the corners, egg-and-dart moldings with dentilation and display windows in fancy metal frames enhance the facade of this eight-story showcase.
From the NRHP plaque at the building

Photo goes Here

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Butte Anaconda Historic District

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

102 North Main Street Butte, MT 59701

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Plaque on building (Photo in gallery)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest NRHP Historic Districts - Contributing Buildings
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Nearest Hotels
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
There are no logs for this waymark yet.