423-425 West Mercury
Contractor Fergus Kelley spent $4,000 building this handsome two-apartment residence in September 1900. He and wife Katherine, a well-known Butte vocalist and music teacher, lived at number 423 and rented the other half to tenants. In the early 1890s, this stretch of Mercury Street was a rough dirt road at the western edge of Butte, a checkerboard of empty lots, old log cabins, and new Queen Anne style cottages and boardinghouses. Butte’s population grew exponentially by 1900, and modern brick apartment houses quickly filled available lots with much-needed multi-family housing. Fergus and Katherine’s building, with its matching front porches, attractive decorative parapet, and distinctive window sashes, housed skilled mine workers and young professionals. Sadly, Fergus and Katherine enjoyed the property only briefly. Fergus died of lung disease in 1901, and Katherine eventually sold the building. Boilermaker Thomas Grimes and wife Agnes rented at number 423 from 1904 to 1925. Like many other working-class renters in Butte, the Grimes’s sublet their extra bedrooms to an ever-changing array of unmarried workers.