Only seven years after organizing, the Helena chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Association, Independent, opened this residential building for the city’s young working women in 1918. Founded by women from most of Helena’s churches and synagogues, the local chapter is today the only Independent YWCA in the nation, welcoming both Christian and non-Christian members. Although the chapter chose not to join the national organization, it too strived to improve conditions for the working woman. In a time of dramatic change in traditional roles, this building welcomed young women with safe housing, and with practical classes such as typewriting and sewing machine operation, and also more intellectual courses such as astronomy and physiology. Adult recreational sports, child care, and children’s day camps also were organized. The building was designed by Chester H. Kirk and built of locally made bricks from the Kessler Brick Yard by Frank Jacoby and Son. It combines decorative detailing common to both Craftsman and Classical styles of architecture. This includes simulated quoining in brick at the corners, a soldier course that wraps around the building between the basement and first floor levels, a brick belt course at the sill level of the second floor windows, and stacked brick window surrounds. Public rooms occupy the first floor interior, with 43 bedrooms—all finished with maple, birch and white pine—on the upper floors.
The Montana National Register Sign Program
501 North Park Street, Helena, Montana
Lewis and Clark county