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HISTORY & PREHISTORY

Content's Corner

Content Corner

Content's Corner is of true historical significance. When finished by Sol. Content in September, 1864, it was undoubtedly the city's most impressive business block. Its gothic arches, indeed, lent a civilized dignity to the otherwise rough town. They seemed to say, "Now you, too, should get rid of your old log stores and build a really permanent stone city." Content's Corner may have been the starting point for the survey of the town. While Virginia City was Territorial capital from 1865 to 1875, it was home for the offices of the Territory. Robert Vickers and his grandson Bob Gohn have occupied the building for nearly a century.

Content Corner

John S. Rockfellow and William Dennee, grocers, were the first occupants of newly complete Content's Corner, while their own frame store on Jackson Street was being built. Herman, Schwab, and Loeb, grocers were next, until 1866 when Sol. Content operated a clothing business in his building for a brief time. Later in 1866, Seigel Brothers took over Content's stock and continued until 1872. Elling moved at that time from his old store below the Buford Block to Content's Corner. Armstrong and Johnson took over Elling's in 1873 when he entered the banking business. They continued ten years, selling to Robert Vickers in 1883. The store has remained in the same family nearly a century. Vickers managed his clothing store here until his death in 1923. It was continued by Martha Sutenberg Castle, his daughter, until 1936. A grocery was in the building briefly and in 1943, Robert Gohn, grandson of Robert Vickers, moved in to start his famous "Bob's Place" combination bar, grocery, and hardware store which he still operates. Bob Gohn, blinded in a mine explosion since he was a small boy, is a truly remarkable person in his ability to operate and manage his retail business.

On the second floor of Content's Corner, the Governor and Secretary of Montana Territory had their offices at various times. (They had offices near the Elling Bank and in other places, as well, over the years.) After the Territorial Offices were moved to Helena in 1875, lawyers, surveyors, and other professionals had their office here.

Although eclipsed many times by grander structures — the stately business blocks of Helena built in the 1889 era and the enduring fireproof buildings of the 1914 period, for instance — Content's Corner still holds a place of honor in Montana's history though many of the far more notable buildings are long since gone.

The major change in Content's Corner took place about 1895 when the gothic front arch windows were removed and a "modern" plate glass store front, with a brick façade above, were installed…changes which were unfortunate (from an architectural point of view) but in keeping with what was considered up-to-date at that time. (The Bovey Restoration is, at present, buying the building and plans to restore the gothic arches.)

Special acknowledgements to: John D. Ellingsen, John N. DeHass, Tony Dalich, and Ken Sievert, Tom Cook and Ellen Baumler of the Montana Historical Society.

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