Thursday, August 16, 2012


If you love old buildings and fascinating architecture, you could spend days exploring this town.

Goodkind Building: Transitional Western Commercial architecture typical of the early 1880s. It is the oldest standing commercial building north of Broadway. A pressed metal cornice crowns the top. Built in 1884 as a wine, liquor, and cigar business.

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civic centerHelena Civic Center: Originally built as a Shrine temple in 1920


The Securities Building built in 1886.

first nationa bank 

The Montana Club was Montana’s most prestigious private club: Membership was open only to millionaires.

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The Power Block was built in 1889; note that on the corner, each of the five floors has windows grouped in corresponding numbers of panes.

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The Atlas Building is one of Helena’s most fanciful; on a cornice upheld by Atlas, a salamander and lizards do symbolic battle. An insurance company built the building (for $40,000) as an advertisement. The salamanders—mythical creatures like phoenixes that fire cannot destroy—cavort atop the building while stylized flames lick across the building’s top. Atlas bears the symbolic burden for the policy holders.


Boston Block (1890) - The Boston Clothing Company, purveyors of “gentlemen’s furnished goods,” was the first occupant of this flamboyant commercial block. Upstairs were gambling and furnished rooms. When Helena’s red-light district a few streets south closed during Prohibition, the women resurfaced here. Well-known madam Ida Levy located upstairs. She moved next door to the St. Louis Block in 1933, and Pearl Maxwell operated the Royal Rooms here in the Boston Block until her death in 1953. 

 boston block

granite bldg Granite Block – Rebuilt in 1929 after a fire destroyed many of the buildings on Last Chance Gulch.



Iron Front Hotel, (1888)  Its prefabricated iron façade was locally cast at the Stedman Foundry. In 1889, House Republicans of the state’s first legislature regularly caucused in the hotel’s meeting rooms. The fourth-story ballroom, added in the early twentieth century when the Independent Order of Oddfellows (I.O.O.F.) owned the building, features an oak floor billed as the best dance floor in the West.

iron front iron front1


st louis blockSt. Louis Block, (1882)  Upstairs longtime madam Ida Levy ran one of the best-known brothels in Montana from the 1930s through the mid-1950s. Her successor, “Big Dorothy” Baker, ran the house until 1973. This building houses the Windbag Salon, a fine eating establishment.



New York Block,(1929) The New York Store, founded in 1885, was one of Helena’s longest operating businesses. After the 1928 fire, owner Herman Fligelman changed the name to Fligelman’s and operated here until 1958. Fligelman advertised his business in the façade. A tiny tailor and seamstress perch on the second-story corners along with the centered family crest. Shields of historic Florentine clothier guilds remind shoppers that Fligelman’s offered a long tradition of quality clothing.

new york block

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Masonic Temple, (1885) This building was the third home of the Helena Masons, serving until 1942. It has now been converted to apartments and my sister lived on the second floor of this building for several years.



There are so many more that I could really bore you to death. But I did want to share some of these unique buildings with you.


  1. The detail on these old buildings is wonderful. Jim and Sandie, thanks for the great tour.

  2. Love the seamstress!!!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  3. All that beautiful architecture in such a small town! Wonderful.

  4. Wonderful tour. Carrie mentioned Reeder's Alley. She said that is a cool area also.

  5. Mike and I are enjoying your tour and even though he has lived here his entire life, you are teaching him lots about Helena.

  6. Love old buildings! We may have to tour back to Helena to get a closer look!

  7. Sad to think we'll never see buildings constructed with so much character again. :c(

  8. It always amazes me when I take time to look at buildings; they are much more wonderful than I expect. Thanks for sharing these.

  9. I loved Helena when I was there - really unique. Love the photos.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.