National Historic Landmark District - Butte, Montana

History of the Metals Bank Building

As copper replaced the gold and silver output of a sturdy mining camp, it brought Butte, Montana to one of the most active and financially sound metal producing cities in the United States.  The small banking firm of Hoge Brownlee laid the groundwork for the eventual development of one of the largest banking firms in Montana – “The Metals Bank and Trust Co.”  Founded in 1882, Daly and other associates opened its doors Historic Main Street Butte Montanato the Hoge, Brownlee & Company in the mining city. The banking company was composed of W.L. Hoge, who conducted the Anaconda branch, M.B. Brownlee conducted the parent bank of Butte along with Marcus Daly, F.E. Sargeant and R.C. Chambers. Hoge Brownlee & Company became the firm of Marcus Daly & Company in the spring of 1889. As Daly’s importance grew, Butte came into international prominence.  Financers the world over watched the manipulations of the three Copper Kings – Daly, Clark & Heinze.  Through Butte’s rich minerals, they made millions of dollars.   They fought for riches and fortune through the court system, media, politicians, banks, law enforcement and any other means to benefit themselves and encumber each other. Butte grew with the Copper Kings – the coming of the railroad, horse racing, miners’ torch parades, an opera house with big name performers and its potpourri of nationalities, outnumbered by the Irish.  When gold petered out in the mining city, Marcus Daly gave it new life with the discovery of one of the world’s richest and finest deposit of copper.  Another best known citizen of Butte was Patrick Largey (1836-1898). Patrick Largey, President of the Bank, was killed on January 11, 1898 by Thomas J. Riley.  Riley entered the bank and called Largey to the cashier window where they conversed for five minutes.  Riley held a grudge against Largey because of the injury he incurred where he lost a leg during an explosion in 1895 where Largey was manager of one of the companies whose powder house exploded.  After a few minutes of arguing, Riley pulled a pistol from his pocket and shot through the window and and struck his left arm, then fired a second shot and the bullet hit Largey in the forehead and he fell to his death.
Historic postcard of the Metals Banc Building, Butte Montana
In August of 1899 another re-organization took place changing the bank’s name to Daly, Donahue and Moyer.  In February 1901, Mrs. Daly, after the death of her husband, purchased the interest of Donahue and W.L. Moyor which resulted in the formation of the Daly Bank & Trust Company.  From the original location on the southwest corner of Quartz and Main, the bank was moved in 1906 to the southwest corner of Park and Main, occupied by the State Savings Bank where the capital stock was transferred.  The State Savings Bank was torn down to make room for their new $250,000 structure.

In September of 1907, all of Butte showed up to watch the 32-ton steel door of the State Savings Bank be installed.  The door was moved from the Northern Pacific Yards onto an improvised truck and hauled to the State Savings Bank by 36 horses up an unpaved hilly thoroughfare.

The Metals Bank building was designed by the nationally recognized architect Cass Gilbert of New York City in 1906 for the State Savings Bank. A portion of the south end sits on the site of the old Theatre Comique.  The Montana Architectural Firm of Link and Haire served as local managers and blueprint floor plans, held at Spec. Collections at MSU, Bozeman.  Only one plan from Gilbert’s New York office is contained in the MSU set – the folder was checked out in 1970 and several of the drawings were not returned.  Gilbert is best known for the 60 story Woolworth building in New York City in 1913 and the US Supreme Court building in 1935.  The Metals Bank building is the only building in Montana known to be designed by Gilbert.  The building, 105’ in height, was designed with the bank reserving the main floor – Park Street Level, 19 offices on 3rd floor and 24 offices or rooms on each of floors 4 though 8.

In July 1920, a group of prominent businessmen purchased the stock and reorganized the banking firm as the Metals Bank and Trust Company.

On June 17, 1922, the Metals Bank & Trust Company absorbed the Silver Bow National Bank of Butte. James T. Finlen, President at the time of the merger, was named a vice president of Metals Bank and J.E. Corette, the Vice President, became a member of the Board of Directors.

The years 1925 and 1926 saw considerable remodeling and enlarging of the bank quarters. The main floor bank doubled its original lobby space, a new 3000-box safe deposit vault, three new teller cages, the bond and investment, securities, escrow, trust and savings departments.  An automatic intercommunicating telephone system was installed to connect the teller cages on the main floor with the bookkeeping and accounting department, which had been moved to the second floor.
Historic postcard of the Metals Bank Building, Butte Montana
In August 1928, the Metals Bank & Trust Company purchased all of the assets of W.A. Clark and Brother Bankers of Butte. Already the largest bank in Montana, the capital structure was increased from $100,000 to $1,000,000.  In volume of its resources, it was exceeded then by no financial institution between Minneapolis and Seattle.  It offered a service unsurpassed by any bank in this section of the country.

In January 1936, a special exhibit of moneys and currency loaned by the Chase National Bank of New York was put on display in the Metals Bank Lobby.

A second world war saw the bank do its utmost to promote and facilitate the purchase of War Bonds and to lend all assistance possible to veterans with regard to their financial matters and problems.

In the mid-1970’s, the Metals Bank & Trust Company  moved to a new building across the street, leaving the building.

In 2006, the Ueland family purchased the building. Restoration and renovation included restaurant, galleries, salon, coffee shoppe, residential condos and office suites.

The Metals Bank is a primary element of the Butte Landmark and Central Business district. It represents the strength of Butte’s early financial community; it is a pivotal building within the uptown.  The Metals Bank Building is architecturally a significant example of the early 20th century commercial building, employing the structural practices of steel frame and curtain wall construction that made the true skyscraper a possibility.