The Birthplace of Helena

The area south of Broadway that came to be known as "South Main" was where Helena began. It was there that gold was discovered in 1864, and where the early town grew up. It may be said that the area retained much of its frontier character long after the rest of the city was more or less civilized.

By the mid-20th Century, "South Main" had become synonymous with "Dangerous Underclass", and was generally regarded as an area to avoid -- unless one wanted good Chinese food, of course. Then, setting a cautious foot into the neighborhood to visit the House of Wong or the Yat Son Noodle Parlor seemed worth the risk.

For all its risks, real and imagined, the area retained much of Helena's history within its confines. The 1970s Urban Renewal programs changed all that, essentially gutting the area. Hundreds of families were displaced, hundreds of buildings demolished.




The Pioneer Cabin
HELENA'S OLDEST BUILDING

 


Reeder's Alley
OLDEST INTACT AREA IN HELENA

Site of the Hanging Tree
VIGILANTES AT WORK


Early City Views
INCLUDES THE 1872 FIRE

 


The Red Light District
PROSPEROUS MADAMS


Views of Broadway
AN OLD THOROUGHFARE



The Old Courthouse
BUILT IN 1887



The 1890 Bluestone House
CLOAKED IN MYSTERY


Urban Renewal Demolition
OLD HELENA UPROOTED


The Fire Tower
AN ENDURING SYMBOL OF HELENA

Old City Hall
1885-1935


Large 1890/91 View
LANDMARKS NOTED - CHINATOWN

1878 Flood

43 Spencer St.
1887-2013

313 Pine St.
HELENA'S OLDEST FRAME HOUSE - 1865

Chinese Gardens
GRIZZLY & ORO FINO GULCHES

1883 View of the City
BY F. JAY HAYNES