A fancifully-tinted ca. 1900 postcard view of Last Chance
Gulch, looking south from Grand St. Prominent on the right
is the (white) 1890 Merchants National Bank building, and
the (yellow) 1883 Montana National Bank building. On the near
left is the red brick Thompson Block, on the site of the future
Placer Hotel. The red building on the right is the Grand Central
Hotel, later the Harvey Hotel.
H. HERSHFIELD & BRO. BANKING HOUSE 1965-1882
MERCHANTS NATIONAL BANK - 1882-1898
UNION BANK & TRUST CO. - 1898 - 1959
1865, L H. Hershfield opened a private bank in Last Chance
Gulch, near the corner of Bridge Street (later State Street)
and Warren Street, supplementing his bank in Virginia City.
later his brother, Aaron, became associated with him, and the
L. H. Hershfield and Bro. banking house operated as one of the
leading financial firms in the territory until June 10,1882
when it obtained a charter as the Merchants National Bank of
Helena. This bank was located at 52 South Main which in later
years, and until April, 1958, was occupied by The Independent
National Bank, circa 1892
1892 LITHOGRAPH BY WARD BROS., COLUMBUS OHIO - COLLECTION OF KENNON
the Merchants National constructed this six-story bank building
on the NW corner of Main and Edwards, where Helena's second
(1872) Masonic Temple once stood. Eight years later, after
the Merchants had suspended business operations, they sold
the building to the newly-organized Union Bank and Trust Company.
The Union Bank maintained its quarters there for 61 years,
moving to a new building at the SW corner of Lawrence and
Last Chance Gulch in July of 1959.
Power offices then moved into the main floor of the Merchants
National building, then known as the Wheat Building, and the
upper floors were leased as office space. The handsome structure
was demolished in the autumn of 1975, during Urban Renewal.
Bank & Trust Co. employees, 1920s.
___ Mc Connell, Edna Kain, Claude McGuinness,
Irvin Gibson, Ben Draper, Bill Lane, Ed Butler, Frank Ladan.
THE 1965 LAST CHANCE STAMPEDE PROGRAM COURTESY OF KITTY ANN
Bank & Trust Co. Christmas party, December 22, 1949
OF MIKE MILLEGAN CLICK
ON PHOTO FOR A LARGE VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW
native Nancy Goodspeed adds: "The
father holding the little girl on the left side of the photo
is Ray Hess, a long time Union Bank official. He is holding
his youngest daughter, Paulette Rae Hess (later Brown, and wife
of Helena Mayor Rich Brown) who was my college roommate and
long time friend."
Nancy, for all your wonderful contibutions to this website!
Bank Teller, 1953
THE 1953 CARROLL COLLEGE 'HILLTOPPER' YEARBOOK - COURTESY OF THE
MONTANA MEMORY PROJECT
New Union Bank & Trust Co. - Main at Lawrence
for the construction of the new Union Bank began in November
of 1957, with the demolition of the 1924 Phoenix Building.
The bank opened with great fanfare on July 20, 1959.
inside the building is the ceramic mural in the lobby, done
by the late Rudy
Autio. There is also an interesting collection of gold,
in various forms, housed in a secure room off of the lobby.
Another novelty was the ice-free heated sidewalk, which
was quite welcome from about November to March.
Union Bank Interior, ca 1960 • Photo by Clarence DeWalt
COURTESY OF DAVID POOR • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW
OF TOM KILMER
ashtray, given out when the new Union Bank building opened in
Deposit in the New Bank Made by John Quigley of Frontier Town
Union Bank Weather Ball
1962 ad featuring
the weather ball
Weather Ball, 1963
OF KITTY ANN QUIGLEY TAALER
Bank & Trust Co. Christmas Party, Dec. 20, 1962
KENNON BAIRD COLLECTION CLICK ON IMAGE
TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW
Rustic 1964 "Fort Union" Stockade
THE 1964 LAST CHANCE STAMPEDE PROGRAM COURTESY OF KITTY ANN
Helena businesses during the Territorial Centennial year of
1964, Union Bank added a frontier look with a decorative split-log
structure. "Fort Union" faced Lawrence St.
Two Small Calendars from the 1960s • David Poor Collection
the National Bank of Montana)
LITHOGRAPH BY WARD BROS., COLUMBUS OHIO - COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD
Charles A. Broadwater in 1886, The Montana National Bank building
stood on the SW corner of Main and Edwards St. Edwards was eliminated
during the 1970s Urban Renewal project.
ad for the Montana National Bank.
1942 view of
the Montana National Bank, Main at Edwards.
of Bank's Co-founder Perishes in January 9, 1944 Blaze
National Bank Fire from Edwards Street
Taken Prior to the Explosion that Collapsed Much
of the Building
OF CAPT. SEAN LOGAN & THE HELENA FIRE DEPT.
FOR MORE HISTORIC HFD PHOTOS, CLICK
National Bank building was destroyed by fire on January 9,
1944. Killed in the blaze were two elderly women, Elizabeth
and Laura Clarke, sisters-in-law who resided in an apartment
on the fourth floor. Elizabeth Clarke, 81, was the widow of
A. G. Clarke, founding Vice President of the bank. Her sister-in-law
Laura Clarke, 83, was the widow of A. G.'s brother, Will.
Eight others were injured in the fire, several critically.
National Bank Fire from Park Ave.
The rear of the Marlow Theatre is seen on the left
OF CAPT. SEAN LOGAN & THE HELENA FIRE DEPT.
FOR MORE HISTORIC HFD PHOTOS, CLICK
DAVID HULL COLLECTION
OF WENDI KOTTAS PETERSON
Eliminated by 1970s Urban Renewal
Street, which ran east/west between Main Street and Olive
Street, had a distinctly urban feel about it, as evidenced
by the 1944 fire photograph above. The main attraction on
Edwards was, of course, the majestic Marlow Theatre, another
victim of Urban Renewal.
Helena historian Vivian Hayes wrote a wonderful article about
Edwards Street for the Independent Record. Courtesy of Vivian,
we are very pleased to present it here in PDF format. Click
on the images below for parts 1 and 2:
Helena Branch of the
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank
OF TOM KILMER CLICK ON IMAGE FOR A
LARGE VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW
(1910-1974), located on the southeast corner of Edwards St.
and Park Ave., was built to house the Helena Automatic Telephone
Company, which operated from 1910-1914.
that time, Helena had two phone companies, the other being
the Rocky Mountain Telephone Company. The exchanges were not
integrated, so some people had to have two telephones. When
the Helena Retail Merchants Association opted to go exclusively
with Rocky Mountain, Helena Automatic folded. This building
subsequently housed the Foidel Undertaking Company from about
became the Federal Reserve Branch Bank in 1921. The second
story was added at that time, along with significant interior
alterations. After the Bank moved to custom-built quarters
on Park Ave. in 1938, the building became the Union Bus Depot.
The building was demolished in 1974 during Urban Renewal.
1935 Earthquake Damage
OF THE SEAN LOGAN COLLECTION CLICK
ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW
of the Last Photos of the
Helena Automatic Telephone Company Building, 1974
of the Marlow Theatre can be seen in the background
WES AND CAROL SYNNESS COLLECTION
Branch of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, 400 N. Park Ave.
THE WEBSITE OF THE MINNEAPOLIS FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
flower-bedecked lobby of the old Federal Reserve Branch
Bank, Park Ave. at Lawrence. Photo taken on the bank's opening
day, June 17, 1938.
building was constructed in 1937-38 and served as the Federal
Reserve Bank until 1990. It was originally only one story
tall, the second story added in 1946.
the new Federal Reserve Bank opened at 100 Neill Ave., on
the site of the Great Northern Depot...
THE WEBSITE OF THE
MINNEAPOLIS FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
former bank building on Park Ave. was purchased by John
T. Betts, and remodeled in 1991 to accommodate offices on
the upper and lower level, and the First Montana Title Company
on the main level. The remodeling process was careful to
preserve the character and detail of the building. Now called
the Reserve Financial Center, it is still home to 4 major
vaults and 34 smaller vaults throughout the building.
back to STORES, OFFICES, ETC.