Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fritz Augustus Heinze

Butte Copper King Fritz Augustus Heinze was dashing, aggressive, and unscrupulous. Women adored him, and he lived a fast and colorful, albeit short, life. In 1893 he formed an alliance with Copper King William A. Clark against their mutual rival Marcus Daly. After Daly’s death in 1900, Standard Oil Company acquired Daly’s influential Amalgamated Copper Mining Company. Heinze and Clark challenged its political and economic power. But mining fortunes made quickly could be lost just as fast. Standard Oil retaliated. Stock in Heinze’s own United Copper Company was mysteriously bought and sold. This and Heinze’s own financial indiscretions ruined him.

From Technical World Magazine, 1904, via Wikipedia
At the height of his legal and financial troubles, Heinze’s mining fortunes financed the handsome Metals Bank Building at Park and Main Streets. Nationally acclaimed architect Cass Gilbert designed the landmark in 1906 at the same time that he designed the Montana Club in Helena. Architecturally similar, both were pivotal buildings, constructed with new techniques that allowed multiple stories.

Courtesy Metals Bank Building
In 1914, Heinze died broke in New York City of cirrhosis of the liver; he was only forty-five. The Metals Bank Building is the only legacy he left in Montana.

P.S. Remember the cold-blooded shooting that took place where the Metals Bank Building stands today?
P.P.S. This caricature of Heinze seems pretty accurate.

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