502 West Park Street
As Butte boomed from 3,300 people in 1880 to over 20,000 in 1890 and over 45,000 in 1900, rentals remained in great demand. Built before 1891, this two-story brick building, which now houses four units, originally contained eight separate apartments. A large, open front porch (now enclosed) and a second porch that ran the entire length of the Jackson Street façade ornamented the exterior. In 1910, fifty-six-year-old widow Martha York served as the apartment house’s landlady, supporting four children, ages twelve to twenty-one. In addition to the Yorks, the building was home to an undertaker and his family (including four children), a copper miner and his wife, and four male lodgers. Mary Kelly, also a widow, ran the apartment in 1920. Because mining was such a dangerous occupation, Butte was known as a city of widows and orphans; running boardinghouses or apartments offered widowed women a way to support themselves without leaving home. The apartment’s residents reflected Butte’s diversity: the Irish-born Kelly rented to American-born, Irish, Bohemian, and Finnish tenants, whose occupations ranged from hod-carrier and miner to sheepshearer, electrician, waitress, and housekeeper.