Anaconda Company Pay Office

In 1918, the Anaconda Company built this patterned brick commercial building to house its pay office, previously located in the attached Main Street building.

Distinctive features include windows bound by brick soldier courses, scalloped grill work, and Art Deco-inspired brackets. Every Friday, men lined up here to collect weekly wages, while women gathered hoping to secure their husbands’ pay before they spent it at the bars. On July 6, 1919, a blast rang out from the office entrance at 3:45 AM. Dynamite had blown a hole in the corridor wall, shattered six buildings’ windows, and hurled iron gates across the street, narrowly missing a streetcar full of miners leaving their shift. The explosion coincided with an Industrial Workers of the World convention and a local strike protesting the imprisonment of Thomas Mooney—a labor activist convicted for a San Francisco bombing. Pro-labor sources alleged that the company staged the blast to discredit Butte’s workers’ movement. Meanwhile, the company-owned Anaconda Standard called it a “program of terrorism” orchestrated by a “small but dangerous [radical labor] minority.” The building functioned as the pay office until 1959.

Images

18 East Quartz Street
18 East Quartz Street Source: 1959 Tax Assessment Card, Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives

Location

18 East Quartz

Metadata

Montana Historical Society, “Anaconda Company Pay Office,” Story of Butte, accessed April 14, 2024, https://storyofbutte.org/items/show/3464.