TOUR INFORMATION: 

 

From May 1st through September 30th, the mansion is open daily for guided tours from 10:00am, noon, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Our address is 219 West Granite,  Butte, MT 59701.  The price of the guided tour is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. The tour is free for overnight guests during the summer. To reserve a room, call 406-782-7580 or send an e-mail to thecopperkingmansion@gmail.com.

Copper King Mansion History

In Montana High Wide and Handsome, Joseph Kinsey Howard wrote of William Andrews Clark that "never a dollar got away from him that didn't come back stuck to another..."

William Andrews Clark was born January 8, 1839 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He worked on his father's farm until 14 when he entered the Laurel Hill Academy and then attended law school at the University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa for two years. He then taught school in Missouri from 1859 to 1860. In 1862, he headed west with a small grubstake to enter the risky business of gold mining near Central City, Colorado. Hearing of a gold strike in Bannack, he moved north to the Montana Territory with a friend named Selby and together they staked a claim on Jefferson Davis Gulch near Bannack. They worked the claim and sold it within two years for $1,500.

Clark decided that he was better at helping miners to manage their findings than he was as a miner himself. He invested his profit in a team of horses and a wagon and traveled to Salt Lake City, Boise and elsewhere and began hauling supplies to the mining camps in Montana Territory. From there he began recording claims for miners and making loans based on their claims. From there he quickly amassed a growing fortune through his many mining and banking ventures, at one point having an income that was recorded at about $17 million dollars a month.

When he decided to build his Butte home, the cost of the Copper King Mansion at the time, estimated at about a half-million dollars, represented a half-day's income for him.

By 1900, Clark had amassed a personal fortune estimated at $50,000,000 and was considered one of the wealthiest men in the world.

With his business ventures secure, Clark pursued his passion for politics. He served as the president of Montana's two constitutional conventions. He was instrumental in ensuring that the state capital would be located in Helena. He was elected to the U. S. Senate from Montana and served from 1901 to 1907.

At the height of his career, Clark's business ventures spanned the continent. He owned newspapers in Montana and Utah including The Butte Miner, The Great Falls Tribune,  and The Salt Lake Herald. He owned sugar plantations in California with one of the largest factories in the West--the Los Angeles Sugar Company. Nearby, he owned land with oil wells in Long Beach, California.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey he owned the W. A. Clark Wire Company, one of the largest in the country and in New York he owned the Henry Bonnard Bronze Company.

He is probably the only man ever to personally finance the development of a railroad. Rather than issuing stock or using corporate capital, the railroad was completely financed by his private fortune. The railroad and its branches ran for 1,100 miles and eventually became part of the Union Pacific Railroad.

In Nevada, he owned property that he developed as a ranch for his railroad workers and miners to recover from chronic diseases in the dry desert climate. He later sold this property to make way for the development of a modest village known as Las Vegas -- still situated in Clark County named for him.

He controlled mining interests in Arizona and Montana. In Arizona, he owned 97 percent of the United Verde Mining Company in Jerome and founded the town of Clarkdale, Arizona.

In Butte, he entered the mining business by foreclosing on an undercapitalized silver mine and then bought several others.  He then returned for a year to the Columbia School of Mines in New York to better understand the technical aspects of his new business interests.

In Butte, he built the first successful smelter and stamp mill,  established the water company, the first commercial electric light company and an electric railway. He donated money to the YMCA and to the First Presbyterian Church.

Perhaps his greatest legacy to Butte was that he built the beloved Columbia Gardens, a 68-acre playground and amusement park for the young at heart of Butte and the region. Thursdays were set aside to transport children for free to the Columbia Gardens on his electric trolley system.

Other charitable efforts of Clark include a girl scout camp in New York state named for his daughter Andree. He also funded the Paul Clark Home, an orphanage in Butte that provided sanctuary for the sick and the indigent, and the YWCA home in Los Angeles for homeless girls and their mothers.

In addition to the Copper King Mansion, Clark maintained homes in New York, Santa Barbara, California, and Washington, DC and residences in several other cities including Paris, France. Clark was married twice. His first wife, Katherine was a childhood sweetheart and they had six children together before she died in 1893. In 1901, Clark married Anna LaChapelle and they had two daughters.       

In his later years, Clark developed a passion for collecting European art. To better negotiate for coveted pieces, he learned French and German.  After Clark's death, a wing was added to the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, DC to house his collection.  Following in his father's footsteps and his love of the arts,  his son, William Clark, Jr., founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.