South Butte Neighborhood

John Noyes arrived from California in 1866 and purchased several mining claims just north of today’s Front Street. After he and his partners, including David Upton, “put in a ground sluice,” they cleared “about two ounces

of gold

to the man” the first night. The placer mines had played out by the time the railroad arrived in 1881, so Upton and Noyes platted building lots on their former mining claim. In contrast to the grid of the original townsite, they oriented the streets toward the tracks, announcing the neighborhood’s primary focus. By 1916, thirty-four passenger trains a day rumbled into Butte’s three depots, including the 1906 Renaissance Revival style Union Pacific depot on East Front and the 1916 Sullivanesque Great Northern depot at Arizona and Third. The Butte Electric Railway, which ran the city’s extensive streetcar network, located its car barns and repair shops on East First. Not surprisingly, many South Butte residents worked as conductors, brakemen, switchmen, motormen, or track maintenance men. Others in this mixed residential and industrial neighborhood worked for wholesalers. Over forty warehouses—which once distributed everything from beer, food, and medicine to paper, furniture, and mining equipment—still crowd the tracks. Additional large employers included Western Iron Works, a foundry on Second Street, which produced heavy mining and milling machinery and structural iron; the Butte Gas, Light and Fuel Company; and the nearby Parrot Smelter. Senator Burton K. Wheeler (Democrat, 1923-47) was the predominantly working-class neighborhood’s most famous resident. His home, at 1232 East Second, is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

In 1905, young New England attorney Burton Wheeler stepped off the train at Butte to stretch his legs, lost his money in a poker game, and decided to stay. Courtroom success quickly earned Wheeler a solid reputation. In 1908, Wheeler and his wife, Lulu, purchased this home, built in 1897 by…
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The inscription in the corbelled cornice of this two-story residential/commercial block identifies its first owner, William Bowen, and declares its construction date as 1907. By 1909, the Eagle Saloon occupied one of the two storefronts while proprietor John Skubitz lived upstairs with his wife and…
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Bishop John Brondel founded St. Joseph’s Parish in 1902 to serve the varied ethnic groups settling on Butte’s south side. Father P. A. Quesnel celebrated the parish’s first Mass in a makeshift public hall. In 1907, a combination parish church and school was built on Delaware Street, which served…
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