When in Butte, we found that most of the “good stuff” was in the historic section on the north end of town. Right in the middle of this, is an elegant house, built over a hundred years ago when Butte was a wild and raw boom town. This was the third time Butte had struck it rich. First it was gold, then silver and finally copper. Out of the copper industry came the name William Andrews Clark. A miner, who, with foresight and hard work, became one of the three “Copper Kings” of Montana. In 1883 he build his house on West Granite. As in the past, copper like gold and silver, passed into history along with the Copper Kings. The house was bought by the Cote family and has been in their possession for the last four generations. We made arrangements to tour the house and in doing so had the delightful occasion to meet Erin Sigl, the resident member of the Cote family who is continuing the tradition of maintaining the Mansion as a historical site. Presently named the “Copper King Mansion”, this house may be the only privately owned mansion in Montana, accessible to the public. Erin was busy preparing food for one of the many events that are held the Mansion. She asked the very informative Gabriel Offutt to escort us through the house. As he did so, he described the contents and purpose of each room he took us to. The entry way is quite impressive. The foyer gives you a masterful view of the style, Senator Clark wanted to present. Directly in front of you is the “Stairway of Nations”, so called because the birds from different nations are carved into the white oak panels, that make up the sides of the staircase. The walls are designed in what is called “combed plaster”. Before the plaster was dry, the workmen took various combs and turned them in circles into the plaster, making concentric circle designs, as wall decorations. After reviewing the magnificent rooms on the first floor, we proceeded up the stairs to the second floor, passing a most impressive set of stained glass windows. These 7 ft. wide by 13 ft. high translucent structures glisten, illuminating the otherwise dark staircase. The second floor is an intriguing look at the day-to- day life of the rich and famous of the turn of the Century in Montana. One room houses a collection of antique alarm clocks. The third floor, for all intents and purposes, is a makeshift museum of unrelated antiques. Its structural significance is lost in the menagerie of unrelated items, with many still in working order. One room is filled with Catholic artifacts, another with toys.
Although a working Bed and Breakfast, there is a lot to be seen by the RV traveler. Erin and her capable staff earn the pittance requested for a tour of this unique piece of history, held together by the determination of the Cote family.
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