Centerville Neighborhood

Tightly clustered wooden houses built into the steep slopes of the Butte Hill characterize Centerville. Mostly constructed before 1900, the small Queen Anne cottages, hipped-roof workers’ houses, and vernacular gable-roof homes primarily sheltered immigrant miners and their families. Head frames surrounded Centerville on all sides, and mining supported over three-quarters of the residents. Most homeowners leased the land upon which their houses sat from the Anaconda Company, which retained the right to reclaim the property to expand its mines. During the historic era, Centerville remained outside the city limits. As a result, the neighborhood also lacked city fire protection and street maintenance, further impeding development. Nevertheless, vibrant, ethnic strongholds developed, with cultural and occupational ties creating tightly knit communities amidst the industrial landscape. The neighborhood’s large Cornish population worshipped at Trinity Methodist Church (still extant) and gathered at the Sons of St. George Hall, now gone except its foundation. Cornish miners found work in copper king William A. Clark’s mines, among them the Mountain View, also known as the “Saffron Bun” for the large number of Cornishmen employed there. Centerville’s Irish immigrants also worked in nearby mines, like the legendary mile deep Mountain Con owned by Clark’s Irish rival, Marcus Daly. They fraternized at the Ancient Order of Hibernian Hall, formerly a block from the Sons of St. George. Local children attended the since demolished Adams School, Butte’s first public school. While the extensive collection of commercial and fraternal buildings that once lined Main Street are now gone, the many working-class residences continue to reflect the neighborhood’s rich history.