T Arts Chateau
321 W Broadway in Butte. 723-7600 www.artschateau.org
Charles Clark, the son of Copper King William A. Clark, built this mansion in 1898. It now serves the community as an arts center and museum.
When you first step into the entry way of this magnificent building, notice the beveled glass win- dows, ornate wrought iron, sandstone and vaulted brick ceiling. A free-standing spiral staircase inside is surrounded by 26 rooms adorned with exotic woods from around the world, several stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper by Marshall Field, and a redwood paneled 4th floor ballroom. Thousands of historic artifacts are on display in the museum including textiles, books, vintage clothing and accessories. The furniture collection here is on permanent loan from the University of Montana.
Inside the mansion are four fine art gal- leries featuring works by local, regional and national artists.
The Chateau is open all year. In the summer, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Winter hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. An admission fee is charged.
T Copper King Mansion 219 W Granite St in Butte. 782-7580
The Copper King Mansion was built by William Clark, one of the world’s richest men. The 34 room home was constructed from 1884-1888 at a cost of $260,000, a significant amount of money at the time. In 1971 it was designated as a National Historical Place, and in 1972 it became the first home in Montana to be designated a Montana Historic Site. It is now the only privately owned mansion in the state that is accessible to the public.
As you step inside, you will see the intricately carved wood of the entryway. The hall and stair-
HISTORIC BUTTE: THE ROOKWOOD SPEAKEASY
Voices rise in conversation and laughter sounds over the swanky, scratchy tunes drifting from the record player in the corner. Smoke fills the tiny room, heavy crystal shot glasses, both empty and filled, scatter the 10 or so tables, as a solid crafted bar cranks out the booze and keeps the good times rolling. Poker, gambling, short skirts, dim light, and the excitement of rebellion made this illegal oasis a desired hot spot. Such was the scene at the height of its popularity. A haven for the uninhibited hidden directly below the sidewalks of Uptown Butte, in the basement of a well-known hotel. Stained glass panels in the sidewalk above allowed rays from the sun to permeate this roguish atmos- phere; but those above were none-the-wiser. Only the chosen few gifted with the daily pass- word were permitted to pass. Systematically guarded by a manned cloakroom, three knocks, a two-way mirror watching every move you make, a voice demanding “speak easy,” and then one chance to give the magic words…it was sin, booze, and the roaring 20’s at its fullest.
Illegal drinking establishments displaying a similar scene sprung up practically over night, across America, when Prohibition took effect in 1919. The bustling, mining town of Butte was certainly no exception. Estimated to have some 250 operating bars throughout the city prior to the “dry law”, it is no won- der that the Rookwood Speakeasy is said to have been one of possibly hundreds of estab- lishments like this in Butte at that time. Mike Byrnes, of Old Butte Historical Adventures, happened upon the hidden room in the sum- mer of 2004, during a cleaning of some his- toric Uptown buildings owned by Jeff Francis. Before its discovery, the building had passed through the hands of 2 separate owners from the time of the speakeasy’s likely demise in the early 1930s—all the while, untouched and obscured from the public’s knowledge. It was an astonishing moment for Byrnes and the others as they stumbled upon this room,
uncovering what has recently been acclaimed as one of the most beautiful and complete speakeasies west of Chicago.
Today this amazing piece of Butte, and American, history is open to the public for tours and is available for private receptions. Having been kept as close to the original set- ting as possible, visitors are able to observe this illegal watering hole as it probably appeared decades ago. From its original ter- razzo tile flooring and stained glass skylights to the mahogany wainscoting and mythical griffins carved into the pillars, the room beams with stories of its boisterous past. It is a his- torical display, complete with a 1927 Butte City phone book; dated currency found behind the bar; a “Hoover for President” but- ton; original 1920s posters; and, as a testa- ment to its popularity, an article pulled from a 1928 Butte newspaper telling the story of the largest illegal drinking bust in Butte’s history, taking place at the Rookwood Speakeasy. With so much to see and stories to hear, this museum truly is an experience that hits a chord with all those who enjoy history or to entertain an active imagination.
Tourists and Montana natives alike should not miss the chance to catch such a fascinating glimpse back in time. Visitors can stop into Old Butte Historical Adventures, located on Main Street in Uptown Butte, and take the City Underground Tour that runs daily, departing on the hour and usually last about 45 to 60 min- utes; or the West Walking Tour that leaves at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. everyday during the summer—the Rookwood Speakeasy is the cen- terpiece for both tours. This is a wonderful and enchanting opportunity to travel back to a time of Flappers and Dapper Dans, and to the hus- tle-and-bustle of Butte’s rich, colorful past.
For more information, please contact Mike Byrnes of Old Butte Historical Adventures. (406) 498-3424, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit their website at www.buttetours.info.
BUTTE, DILLON, & VIRGINIA CITY AREA