Filed Under Neighborhoods

Santa Claus of Walkerville House

122 West Daly St.

Built by miner Daniel Sullivan in the early 1880s, the small house at 122 W. Daly was one of the earliest buildings in Walkerville.

It is currently being renovated by owner Butch Gerbrandt, with assistance from Clark Grant. Renovation work revealed that the front portion of the home, assumed to be the original section, is constructed of logs.
Sullivan lived in the home with his wife, Kate, who outlived him and during at least one point, around 1900, shared the house with a boarder. Kate resided there until shortly before her death in 1914.
After Kate’s death, the house became the subject of a court battle that eventually went before the Montana Supreme Court. In Kate’s later years she needed someone to care for her, and her next-door neighbor Kate Danahey took on her care in exchange for a deed to the Sullivan house, worth $500-600 at the time. At some point Kate Sullivan left Kate Danahey’s house, claiming abuse, and went to live with longtime friend Kate Kiley of Centerville, also giving her a deed to the house in exchange for her care. Upon Sullivan’s death, Kiley executed Sullivan’s will, paying debts and funeral expenses of $350. She petitioned the court to void the deed given to Danahey, based on the age and incompetence of Sullivan at the time. The lower courts ruled in Kiley’s favor but Danahey appealed, and the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kiley in 1921.
In the 1990s a house at the rear of the property became known as the workshop for the “Santa Claus of Walkerville” (also known as Jim Worthem). Worthem played Santa Claus for more than 40 years and in his retirement created the workshop, decking it out with colored lights and striped trim. Worthem raised money and donations of toys through his Santa Claus of Walkerville non-profit, giving children who visited the workshop a candy cane and a toy. The non-profit also provided Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to families in need. According to a Dec. 10, 1991, article in the Montana Standard, Worthem opened the workshop to visitors year-round to encourage tourists to come up on the hill where “there’s such a beautiful view.”

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Metadata

Story of Butte, “Santa Claus of Walkerville House,” Story of Butte, accessed June 22, 2024, https://storyofbutte.org/items/show/3435.