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Murder at Butte, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 00.771 W 112° 32.031
12T E 381258 N 5096618
Quick Description: A fairly large brick building, in its early years the Imperial Block housed many of the miners upon whom the economy of the city depended.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 2/9/2018 12:04:55 AM
Waymark Code: WMXPJ8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member DnRseekers
Views: 0

Long Description:
Three storeys and brick from top to bottom, the Imperial Block was built in 1900 by investor Abraham Wehl. One of several remaining Butte buildings with a cast iron facade on the ground floor, the Imperial Block was built primarily as a rooming house, but was built with retail space for two establishments across the front of the ground floor. The rest of the building housed as many as fifty miners in its early years, as well as a few prostitutes. In later years the prostitutes were caused to leave, being replaced by young families, some with children.

With a fair complement of fancy brickwork, the building was given Roman arched windows on the upper floors, each with bricks forming the arches and brick hoods decorated with terra cotta inserts, the second floor windows having pronounced keystones. Under the overhanging cornice is a line of small dentils, while below is a panel bearing the name and year of construction of the building. The front facade is divided into three bays by brick pilasters, with two windows per bay above and three evenly spaced recessed doors at ground level, two for the retail shops and a third for the stairway to the floors above.

Abraham Wehl was one of the original directors of the Deaconess hospital, incorporated February 15, 1917. The first to open a sporting goods store in Butte, Wehl apparently also dabbled in mining investments, as did pretty much everyone in the town, buying and selling mining claims in the town. What little else we know about Wehl is gleaned from his obituary, below.

Abraham Wehl, proprietor of the first sporting goods store in Butte and a resident of this city for the last half century, died yesterday morning at his home, 714 W West Park street, after a brief illness. He was born In Germany 82 years ago. When a young man he came to the United States and for a long time made his home in the South. Later with a group of young men he came West via the overland route. After visiting In several sections, Mr. Wehl decided to make his home in Butte and established a business here. He was always active In civic welfare movements. He was instrumental in the construction of the B'nai Israel temple, and & member of Mount Moriah Lodge A. F. and A. M.. thirty-third degree, Butte Consistory No. 2, Ancient and Accepted Order of Scottish Rites and Baghdad shrine. He was one of the founders of the Congregation of B'nal Israel temple and for the last 20 years served as president of the group. Until his recent illness he seldom failed to attend regular service. His death is mourned by a host of friends and acquaintances... ...His sporting goods establishment was located on the ground floor of the [illegible, now gone] Block at Park and Main streets.
From the Butte Standard, June 24, 1932

Back in its early days, Butte was a pretty rough and tumble town, as can be seen from the following short news article.


Fergus County Argus | April 05, 1905, Page 3
Saloon is the Scene of Another Bloody Tragedy
Butte, April 1.—-With blood gushing from a gaping wound in his throat, Matt Tickson, a miner, living on East Broadway, dashed from Victor North, an ex policeman, his alleged assailant, in the Imperial block saloon on East Park street today noon, and leaving behind him on the flight of stairs leading to the alley in the rear a trail of red, rushing frantically across Wyoming street, where he fell in a gutter, death resulting within two minutes. Tickson made a pitiful but futile effort to say something.

So sudden was the attack of North upon his victim that none of the crowd in the saloon at the time realized what happened until the blood spurted from the terrible wound. North made no attempt to escape after the stabbing, being, in fact, too much under the influence of liquor to fully realize the seriousness of the affair.

Apparently there was no provocation for the attack on Tickson. North went up to Tickson and slapped him on the face several times, apparently in a spirit of rough fun. Tickson backed away, and evidently did not want to have any trouble with the drunken man.

North, however, kept on with his hand slapping tactics and finally the men came together and began scuffling around the room. Many of the bystanders thought it was nothing more than a good natured scrap, until North suddenly drew his knife and slashed it across Tickson's throat.
From the Fergus County Argus


The changing character of East Park Street is well documented in the history of this rooming house, built as an investment in 1900 by Abraham Wehl. By this time, Butte’s first red light district, located on the block in the 1870s and early 1880s, had been firmly re-established to the south on nearby Galena and Mercury Streets. Handsome business blocks like this one, which replaced dilapidated mining camp buildings, brought some measure of respectability.

Records show that residents at the Imperial were primarily miners and others who worked nearby but in 1910 under proprietress Mamie Smith, the fifty residents included nine prostitutes. Prohibition and reforms brought further change to the neighborhood evident by 1920 when Hugh Quinn, a family man with six children, was tenant landlord. His thirty-three roomers were all men (predominantly miners) or couples with children. Like most rooming houses of the time, second and third-floor lodgings were arranged around a central skylight with ground-floor commercial space. The cast iron storefront, graceful upper-story arches, and decorative brickwork well represent turn-of-the-century Butte.
From the NRHP plaque at the building

Photo goes Here

Type of publication: Newspaper

When was the article reported?: 4/5/1905

Publication: Fergus County Argus

Article Url: [Web Link]

Is Registration Required?: no

How widespread was the article reported?: local

News Category: Crime

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