Burns Block

Decorative brickwork ornaments this two-story Western Commercial style building constructed for jeweler Frank L. Burns. The Canadian-born Burns came to Hamilton in 1894, four years after the town’s founding. He originally ran his business from a one-story wooden building on this site. But in 1906, a giant steam shovel began excavating the “Big Ditch.” Bitterrooters hoped this irrigation canal would transform their valley into an oasis, and Burns saw an opportunity for expansion. His new fifty-by-seventy-foot building included two storefronts. Occupying one was his jewelry store, which in 1909 stocked “a full line of watches, clocks, diamonds and small jewelry, hand painted china, cut glass, [and] souvenirs” as well as musical instruments and fancy stationery. The other storefront he leased to various businesses, including a Chinese restaurant and a general store. The second floor he left undivided as a hall for “entertainments and dances.” As Hamilton’s first large public hall, it contributed markedly to the community’s social life. In later years, the second floor was reconfigured into apartments.


Burns Block

Burns Block

Burns Block (verso unavailable, photo affixed to survey sheet) b&w print | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Unidentified photographer View File Details Page

Access Information:


Street Address:

128-132 West Main Street, Hamiliton, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Burns Block ,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed June 26, 2017, http://explorebig.org/items/show/1735.


Tour navigation:  Previous | Tour Info | Next

Share this Story