Montana 287: The Golden Highway

Daybreak on Madison Valley, from MT 287Cutting through Montana’s southeast corner is state highway 287, not a particularly long route at a little over 40 miles in length, but a spectacular one nonetheless as it connects the Madison River Valley (seen above) with the Ruby River Valley, with the famous mining town of Virginia City in the mountains in between.

IMG_0239We have already talked about the western gateway to the highway, the town of Twin Bridges.  Now I wish to move from west to east, stopping first Sheridan and its Bethel United Methodist Church, a brick late 19th century Gothic Revival church, which is


located on Main Street.  Not far away is Christ Episcopal Church.  Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the church’s builders used locally available river stone in a design from architect George Hancock.  This 1896 building is an excellent example of the Cotswold Cottage-type of Gothic Revival style favored by so many Episcopal congregations at the turn of the 20th century.  It also sets a local precedent for architecturally distinguished dwellings, including the parish house below, found in Sheridan today.

IMG_0237The O’Brien House is also listed in the National Register.  Built in 1894, this two-story brick home is another example of Sheridan’s boom following railroad development.  It is a rather late example of Italianate style (typically more popular in Montana in the 1870s).

Both of these buildings caught my eye in the 194-85 survey but when I returned here in 2012 another part of the town’s domestic architecture caught my eye:  a group of homes along Mill Street.  This street parallels Mill Creek and runs to the Sheridan High School.

IMG_0225This Craftsman-style building dates c. 1920.  Along the street are several interesting examples of domestic architecture from the early 20th century.  You wonder if Mill Street might not be a possible National Register historic district.

Nearby the homes along Mill Street is a great public building from more recent times, the 1960s, in the Contemporary-styled Sheridan Public Library.

Sheridan public library

Two historic commercial buildings are also worthy of documentation.  Neither the Jensen’s Store nor the Ruby Hotel are “restored” in the classic preservation sense.  Rather they are alive, still serving the community in the ways they have for decades. The historic name for the Jensen’s store is the H.D. Rossiter Store, a classic example of a western general store built in brick and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The Ruby Hotel is a favorite of mine, especially for the saloon at street level.

Rossiter Bldg, Sheridan NR?

Ruby Hotel, Sheridan




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