Monday, April 23, 2012

William A. Clark

Historian Joseph Kinsey Howard said that a dollar never got away from Copper King William A. Clark except to come back stuck to another. Clark was intelligent, ambitious, and obsessed with his own vanity. Butte was his stronghold. Clark gave his miners there a magnificent park and an eight-hour workday.

Clark with his daughters, AndrĂ©e (left) and Huguette, c. 1917.
Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives
Clark spared no expense on his 1880s mansion in Butte. The thirty-plus rooms had electric as well as incandescent and gas lighting, and a fifteen-hundred-gallon tank on the third floor supplied the household with running water. The home’s beveled French plate glass windows with blinds of hardwood that folded into pockets and frescoed ceilings had no equal in the West.

Today, Clark's mansion is a bed and breakfast.
Montana saw little of Clark after 1900, when he served an undistinguished six years in the U.S. Senate. Clark endowed a library and built a theater at the prison in Deer Lodge—the first prison theater in the United States—to thank the warden for the use of convict labor on his ranches and in his mines. But Clark took his vast fortune elsewhere. His wealth endowed the University of Virginia’s law school, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and the University of California’s library. None of it ever came back to Montana.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go
P.S. Check out this menu for a banquet given by Clark.

1 comment:

  1. The full story on W.A.'s daughter Huguette is at