Helena Historic District

The crooked path of Last Chance Gulch, weaving between original mining claims, memorializes Helena’s chaotic beginning as a gold camp in 1864. Within a year of the placer gold discovery, a boomtown flourished, with homes and businesses in tents and log cabins. Fire was both constant threat and regular scourge. In 1869, the downtown burned, replaced over the next few years by brick and granite business houses. Helena survived after the placer gold played out and population declined, because pioneer entrepreneurs had made it a financial center. Helena claimed the territorial capital from declining Virginia City in 1874, and the following year received one of the nation’s five U.S. Assay Offices—acknowledgment of extensive hard-rock gold and silver mining that replaced placer mining. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883, and Helena’s election as state capital in 1894, confirmed the town’s survival. Downtown buildings in a great variety of architectural styles arose, many since lost to fires, earthquakes, and urban renewal. The panic of 1893 and end of guaranteed federal silver purchases slowed Helena’s early momentum, but the gold camp that survived grew gradually as a business and government center.

Images

Helena, Montana

Helena, Montana

Helena, Montana Digital ID: fsa 8c21417 Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-065034-D (b&w film neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540  | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division | Creator: Vachon, John, 1914-1975, photographer View File Details Page

Helena, Montana. Office building

Helena, Montana. Office building

Helena, Montana. Office building Digital ID: fsa 8c21472 Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-065092-D (b&w film neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540  | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division | Creator: Vachon, John, 1914-1975, photographer View File Details Page

A. J. Seligman House

A. J. Seligman House

Perspective view of main (east) and south elevations - A. J. Seligman House 802 Madison Avenue, Helena, Lewis and Clark County, MT Digital ID: hhh mt0024.photos.100550pCall Number: HABS MONT,25-HEL,10- Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division | Creator: Huntsman, Al, photographer View File Details Page

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Two major areas comprise the Helena Historic District. The first area is roughly bounded by Hauser Blvd, Monroe Ave, Stuart Street, Dearborn Ave, Flowerree Street, and Madison Ave. The second area is roughly bounded by Neill Ave, N Last Chance Gulch, W Placer Ave, Cruse Street, E Lawrence Street, N Ewing Street, 7th Ave, N Rodney Street, E 6th Ave, N Davis Street, E Broadway, S Cruse Street, Wong Street, S Park Ave, the beginning of W Main Street, S Howie Street, N Howie Street, W Lawrence Street, Madison Ave, Dearborn Ave, N Benton Ave, and N Park Ave.
Helena, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Helena Historic District,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed April 24, 2017, http://explorebig.org/items/show/51.

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