I’m looking to the time when I can resume my exploration of Montana’s historic places, hopefully in the late summer when travel may be easier as the pandemic eases it impact on everyone. In the meanwhile, I wanted to make several posts about Montana properties that are listed as National Historic Landmarks–the highest possible federal designation for national significance. Montana has its fair share of NHLs because so much nationally significant history has happened within the state, and so many nationally historic individuals has passed its way for its centuries of history.
Burton Kendall Wheeler (1882-1975), however, does not carry the name recognition, say of Lewis and Clark. However, as a national political leader of the first half of the 20th century, Wheeler more than made his mark just on the West. He served four terms in the U.S. Senate, from 1923-1947, and ran as the Vice-Presidential nominee for the Progressive Party third party candidacy of Robert La Follette of Wisconsin in the 1924 presidential campaign. He strongly supported the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, but then emerged as an isolationist as the storm clouds of World War II gathered from 1939 to 1941.
His bungalow on Butte’s E. 2nd Street is known locally as the “blue house,” for obvious reasons. Wheeler began his career in Butte c. 1905 and was elected to the Montana legislature in 1910. He served as U.S. Attorney in Butte later that decade and ran as the Democratic nominee for governor in 1920 but lost that election to Joseph Dixon.