The Clark Chateau was built by copper magnate William A. Clark for his oldest son Charles, with construction beginning in 1898. It was designed by architect Will S. Aldrich, and was based on a French chateau that the younger Clarks had seen on their honeymoon.
Charles Clark and his wife, Katherine, lived in the Chateau until 1902, when they quietly relocated to California following a bribery scandal. Katherine died soon after from complications from diabetes, and Charles remarried, starting his life over in San Francisco.
The house was sold in 1906 to Pat Wall, a mining investor, and passed through the hands of several prominent Butte families over the years. In 1910, the Montana state song was composed in the Chateau’s music room by Charles Cohan and Joseph Howard, guests of then-owner Creighton Largey.
Copper magnate James A. Murray purchased the house in 1915, and from 1917-1919, he leased the Chateau to the Butte College of Music. His nephew, Senator James E. Murray inherited the Chateau in 1921 and lived there with his family from 1928-1945. Most of the current decorations date to this time.
The Shriners, an organization associated with Freemasonry, took over the building in 1949 and used the space for its elite Fez Club. Many social events, weddings, and Shriners activities took place here through the years. In 1977, the Chateau was bought by the Silver Bow Bicentennial Committee, and then sold to the City of Butte for use as an arts center and museum. It is still owned by the local government, and has been operated by the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives since 2013.
The Chateau is now the home to The Root & The Bloom Collective, a group dedicated to transforming the building into a haven for the Humanities. Central to the group’s goals is maintaining the building’s historical integrity, while opening up the space for community use. The group operates under the umbrella of the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives.
The Root & The Bloom takes its name from a Jungian metaphor for the relationship between our collective unconscious and its manifestation as culture — our shared roots, and the blossoms they produce.