Built in 1884 by George Hartman, this stately house was located at 625 E. Front Street where the present day Hilton Doubletree is now. In the early 1900s, just to its east at the mouth of Rattlesnake Creek, was the Missoula ice plant and ice pond. It is interesting that both this house and the Rankin house, a block north on Madison, had cupolas. Perhaps, they were built so the goings-on in four-block-to-the-west wild and wooly downtown could be observed from a safe distance, and/or to be the first to witness stages and trains coming in from the east.
Sadly the Hartman house, like Rankin’s, was razed in 1962 to make way for construction of the Madison Street bridge.
Once located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Madison, this unique home was built by John Rankin, father of Jeanette Rankin, the first congresswoman from Montana, and her famous brother Wellington Rankin. It, tragically, was razed in 1962 so Madison Street could be widened to accommodate the new bridge.
Rankin home at 134 Madison Street
At the northeast corner of Main and Ryman, from the early 1950s until the 1990s, there was a a small gravel parking lot flanked on the east by a number of old buildings that were later torn down to make way for a city parking garage. If you ever wondered what might have been there before the little lot, it was a grocery store, Ormesher’s Market (which evidently had replaced an earlier business known as Deschamps Imports).
That small parking lot was what became of the building site after a catastrophic fire consumed Ormesher’s in December 1952.
Half way between Missoula and Frenchtown on the old Mullan Road was the Cyr Hotel, also known as “Half Way House.” The building was located on the Cyr Ranch, the Cyr’s being a large French immigrant family that settled several parts of the Grass and Frenchtown valleys in the 1870s.
John Cyr built the ranch house (left half) in 1885. In the late 1800s, an addition was constructed (right half) and the former residence began operating as a hotel. By the early 1900s, the place was a full blown roadhouse, complete with bar and dance hall, helping to ease the lives of people traveling to and from the city by horse, coach or buggy.
The last hurrah for the roadhouse was the period around 1908 when the Milwaukee Road was put through. Construction crews provided a brisk trade at the time, but evidently business later fell off resulting in eventual closure of the hotel.
By 1926, when the Sol family purchased the ranch property, the addition had been torn down. The original Cyr ranch house thus became the Sol ranch house which, Lynn (Sol) Moss remembers, had seven bedrooms. “The hotel part was torn down, leaving this beautiful house…it had four 6 foot cherry wood pillars in the living room ..granite counters in the kitchen and an exquisite claw foot bathtub…which came later.”
Joe Sol lived at the ranch house into the 1960s. The Sols sold much of the ranch in 1965. Evidently, the house still stands but sadly is in a state of grave disrepair with broken glass and doors hanging open.
Many thanks to Michael Sol and Mark Sol for photos and information on this lost treasure.
The Sol ranch house in the 1950s
The ranch house today.
Originally formed in 1966 as The Chosen Few, Initial Shock was a psychedelic rock band from Missoula Montana. Composed of members from Missoula bands Mojo’s Mark IV and The Vulcans, the band changed its name to Initial Shock in 1967, moving to San Francisco that same year.
Click on image to read an article about Initial Shock at Rock Archaeology 101
Band members were:
- George Wallace-lead guitar (formerly of the Vulcans)
- William “Mojo” Collins-guitar, vocals
- Steve Garr-bass
- Brian Knaff-drums, vocals
The band released two singles, the first :Long Time Coming” b/w “I Once Asked” by William “Mojo” Collins was recorded on the BFD label at “The House of Sound” in Butte. The second was “Mind Disaster” b/w “It’s Not Easy.” Both were regional hits in the western USA and also in the Top 10 Southern Survey where the lead singer, Mojo Collins was, and still is from.
According to George Crow, their road manager: “The band played with almost every major group during their rise to the top in the bay area. One concert poster featured Initial Shock as the headline group with Clover (Huey Lewis) as the second billed band and the Doobie Brothers as the opening act. The Initial Shock opened for Pink Floyd on their first American tour. The Initial Shock were on many of the 1960’s posters of concerts at the Avalon, Winterland, and The Fillmore West including one of the famous Grateful Dead posters with the huge eyeball at the Avalon Ballroom. The band never signed to a major recording contract and broke up in 1969 due to drugs and personal problems.
Initial shock was a great band, had a huge following, and was a seminal musical addition to the psychedelic scene happening in SF. George Wallace, also known as George Firestone, was recognized as one of the finest guitarists and songwriters of his day. When he wasn’t performing with IS, he often toured with Janis Joplin. After Initial Shock broke up, George Wallace and George Crowe founded Yellowstone Band with drummer Brian Knaff while Mojo Collins went on to found Sawbuck with Ronnie Montrose and Chuck Ruff. Steve Garr bought the Top Hat bar in Missoula Mt in 1987 and owned and operated the place until his passing in 2008 at age 62. Knaff went on to create Talent Booking Network and is a major concert promoter to this day. Mojo Collins still plays the blues and is a North Carolina Institution who plays all over the South. Road manager Crowe and Wallace went on to play in the Invaders which led up to the Sonics album with original lead singer Jerry Roslie. Wallace passed away in 2006 and George Crowe is still playing and getting ready to release his new Cd with Northwest guitar player Marty Shalk in the fall of 2010.”
Long ago The Atlantic Hotel, on North Higgins between Spruce and Alder, had a fraternal twin just across the alley, the Western Hotel. The Western was gone by the 1970s at which time Hamburger Ace occupied the site. Now the Iron Horse fills the space.
Owned by one of Missoula’s oldest Italian families, D’Orazi’s Bar, grocery store and hotel were on the SE corner of Woody and Alder in a building that once housed the luxurious Europe Hotel. One of the D’Orazi daughters married former Italian P.O.W., Alfredo Cipalatto. Together the two owned and ran The Broadway Market.
The photo is from 1968. The hotel and the neighboring shanties were torn down around 1970.