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Montana Club - Helena, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 35.362 W 112° 02.353
12T E 420390 N 5160057
Quick Description: Once the oldest continuously operating private club west of Minneapolis, the Montana Club has, in recent years, been opened to the public.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 3/28/2019 5:09:06 PM
Waymark Code: WM109TG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member ZenPanda
Views: 0

Long Description:
Founded in 1885 by a group of attorneys, bankers, politicians, mining, livestock and timber magnates and self-described capitalists, the original Montana Club, designed by architects John C. Paulsen and John LaValle, was constructed on this site in 1891-1893. It served as a meeting place for the movers and shakers of Montana until the fateful day in 1903 when an arsonist set fire to the place. It was sufficiently burned as to be declared a total loss and what remained was demolished.

The fire was set by the 14-year-old son of the bartender, a boy who had started previous fires, and who actually rode to the site with the firefighters, later explaining that his motive "was to have the horses [that pulled the fire engine] run." The boy was sent to reform school for the offense, but his father kept his job at the club for several more decades.
From Wiki
In 1903 renowned architect Cass Gilbert, architect of the Minnesota State Capitol and New York City’s famed Woolworth Building, was hired to draw up plans for a new building, which was completed in 1905, staging its grand reopening on October 30, 1905. Gilbert incorporated the entrance from the original building into the plans, the building itself ultimately being quite similar to the original. The building stands on the northwest corner of the intersection of 6th Avenue and Fuller Avenue, two streets which meet at considerably less than a 90 degree angle. The resulting trapezoidal lot resulted in a trapezoidal building, now better known as a Flatiron.

With changing times and changing political sensibilities, such things as purely private men's clubs, available only to the very wealthy, have fallen out of favour, but the Montana Club has continued, though no longer in its original role. The club has recently been opened to the public, accepting both men and women, while continuing to operate under the name of the Montana Club. Currently transitioning to a Cooperative Association, the club is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 to closing. With a BLT Burger at $15 and a New York Steak at $32, better bring lots of bread. Their most expensive dish, incidentally, is a Tomahawk Steak ($100) - 4½ pound certified Angus beef, pan seared and served with confit garlic Yukon mashed potatoes, grilled leeks & smoked Maldon sea salt. Ostensibly it will serve 1-4 people.

Further below is a news article from the fateful day, April 27, 1903, on which the Montana Club burned.

Name		Address		Style		Date	Status
Montana Club	24 W. 6th	Arts and Crafts 1905	Primary
Montana Club
The Montana Club was designed by Cass Gilbert in 1905, following a fire which destroyed the former club building. Gilbert was one of many notable 20th century architects to have a hand in shaping Helena's built environment. The building served as a focal point to the architecture completed toward the north end of the commercial district following the turn-or-the-century.
From the NRHP Registration Form

Time stands still within the quiet confines of this nationally renowned social club, the oldest in the Northwest. A group of Helena’s elite founded the Montana Club in 1885 “for gentlemen only.” Members built a seven-story building on this site in 1893, but fire consumed that landmark in 1903. A new Montana Club literally rose from its ashes. , incorporated the original first-floor stone arch design into the new plans. Completed in 1905, the American Renaissance style building sheathes a contemporary structural system in a classical façade. Over the years members have included copper kings, millionaires, and politicians who hosted such notables as Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain. Perseverance and adaptability have seen the club through hard times and change. In 1915, women were first invited to the New Year’s Eve celebration, and gender segregation eventually became a thing of the past. Today, the Montana Club is one of Helena’s most commanding anchors, an ambassador from another era, where tradition endures in grand style.
From the NRHP plaque at the building
Montana Club Building at Helena Is Again Visited by Fire
April 29, 1903 | The River Press Fort Benton

HELENA, April 27.—For the second time in three days the Montana club suffered from fire this evening. The fire tonight resulted In the destruction and ruin of the interior of the building.

As was the case of the two fires last Friday night, the origin is unknown, but it is supposed to be Incendiary. It started on the seventh floor and so fierce were the flames, and so hard to get at, that the fire department could do nothing until it had burned down to the third story.

The fire was discovered by the Chinese cook about 11 o'clock and he rushed down stairs and told the members. There were only half a dozen men in the building and they ran upstairs. A. L. Smith of the National Bank of Montana, and one other member, immediately turned on the hose that is kept in the house, but the fire was away back in a corner close to the top of the elevator shaft and they could not reach it.

The fire burned so rapidly that when the fire department arrived the entire top of the building was in a blaze. The building and furniture cost $100,000, and it is estimated the loss is $100,000 with 470,000 insurance About a dozen men roomed in the club and they lost all of their belongings.
From the River Press Fort Benton

Montana Club is Reopened
October 31, 1905 | Fergus County Argus
Helena. Oct. 30.—The handsome new building of the Montana club was formally opened tonight, and the event was one that, will live long in the minds of those who participated, who include prominent residents of every section of the state.

The reception took place in the card room suite on the third floor...
From the Fergus County Argus

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