Nicholas Blindauer Building

Charles Fonger built a two-story building on this corner in 1893. The saloon on the first floor was one of twenty-one taverns serving the thirsty men in this town of nine hundred residents. A lodge hall occupied the second floor. In 1902, Matthew Blindauer purchased the saloon. According to his 1905 obituary, Blindauer was “the second man to go into business in Hamilton.” Like many pioneer businessmen, he was plagued by fire; he was “burned out four times” during his career, “but, phoenix like, reestablished himself” after each disaster. The wooden saloon on this lot burned once more in 1911. Circa 1916, Matthew’s son Nicholas, a civil engineer by trade, built this one-story storefront. Basket weave brickwork ornaments the façade—the only example of this technique in downtown Hamilton. In 1893, an open irrigation ditch ran across the lot, carrying water from the river to farms on the east side of town. Still in use today, the irrigation ditch extends under several residential blocks and into downtown, briefly surfacing by the Bitterroot Public Library before retreating underground once more.

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252 West Main Street, Hamiliton, Montana ~ private