the town of butte, montana doesn’t come to mind as an important city in cultural american history. but in its heyday, around the turn of the 20th century, butte was one of the most diverse cities in the nation and the copper capital of the world.
prosperity continued in butte until the 1950s, when mining practices switched from underground mining to open pit mining. the money ran out in 1983 when copper mining had stripped the area of its natural resource and left a polluted superfund site in its wake. butte is a like a ghost town today. people live there, but not many of them.
what remains in butte (besides a beautiful toxic lake) is amazing art deco architecture with an abundance of copper fixtures and furnishings within and lots of antiques shops.
one store in particular, rediscoveries, is special because the owner has been hoarding designer collections from high fashion ladies for decades. not only can you find amazing vintage clothing and textiles in his shop, but he also carries a small but tasteful array of mid-century housewares, including pyrex bowls and colorful frosted glasses from the 1960s. the shop is open during the week and most saturdays, but it’s best to call first as the owner sometimes brings his collection to vintage shows on the weekends.
after trying on clothes for hours, my lady friends and i wandered around downtown butte, perusing the other antiques stores. i came across a 1920s hoosier cabinet. it stunk like cigarettes, and had a sticky film all over it. but i fell in love, and brought it home the next weekend. after a little cleaning and paint, it now holds my specialty glassware, platters and tablecloths. at the time i thought i was a little crazy for buying it, but i am so happy its mine.
if you find yourself passing through butte on i90, don’t forget to stop.