Henry S. Gilbert House

 

The Gilbert Home constructed in 1863, was the primary residence associated with the Virginia Brewery, later renamed the Gilbert Brewery.  In 1873 it because the home of Henry and Margaret Gilbert.  Gilbert was an early pioneer who co-founded the brewery with Christen Richter.  The residence was enlarged several times as the Gilbert family grew to include fifteen children.  Eventually vacated in the 1930s, following an unsuccessful effort to restart the brewery after Prohibition ended in 1933, the three-bay dwelling was briefly re-occupied by Charlie and Sue Ford Bovey when they first began visiting Virginia City in the 1940’s. 

Gilbert built up a respectable reputation during his forty years in Madison County.  He was elected alderman several times from the third ward and served two terms as Mayor of Virginia City.  In the early 1870’s, he was elected assessor of the County and served several terms in that capacity.  In 1880, he was elected treasurer of Madison County and served in this office until 1893.  Gilbert was a member of Virginia City Lodge No. 1, A.F. and A.M., was treasurer of the organization for twenty years, and was also a Past Master. Gilbert met a tragic end in 1903 when his wagon overturned and pinned him underneath.

1892 Gilbert House Virginia City, Montana
Gilbert Brewery Complex 1930-1940 Virginia City, Montana
Gilbert Brewery Complex Virginia City, Montana 1930 - 1940

Picture taken in 1892 in front of the Gilbert House.  Left to Right:  Helen Gilbert, Bess, Lynn, May, 3 unknown ladies, Mother Gilbert, Mrs. Bottcher (from Granite Creek) Lewis Gilbert, Mrs. Kramer, Frances Albright with Richard and Helen in buggy, 3 unknown ladies, Amelia Trout holding Maude, in front, Sam Trout.

Photo Courtesy of the Madison County History Association

Brewery Complex ca. 1930-40 The Gilbert Residence ca. 1930-40 with the Gilbert Brewery situated behind.  The central bay of the house may represent the earlier home of the Gilbert family, which was moved into place and provided the platform for the construction of all later additions.

Photo Courtesy of the Montana Historical Society

Brewery complex ca. 1930-40.  The eastern bay is believed to be the more recent addition to the completed Gilbert three-bay residence, and most certainly the most deteriorated and at-risk. However, the east bay does exhibit the most structural consistency; owing to the likelihood that it was erected and completed as a whole, rather than assembled as parts in past fashion. It is also important to note that the east bay may have likely evolved to meet the need to house the growing Gilbert family that numbered 15 toward the end of the 19th century, in addition to perhaps enclosing and tapping a natural spring believed to be located in the northeast corner.

Photo Courtesy of the Montana Historical Society

Gilbert Brewing Co Beer Label Virginia City, Montana

Lager Beer label from Gilbert Brewing Co. in Virginia City, Montana – Oldest Established Brewery in Montana

1863 Gilbert Brewery Advertisement Virginia City, Montana

Advertisement 1890

Gilbert residence artist rendering Virginia City, Montana
Chinese Funeral outside Gilbert House 1900 Virginia City, Montana

Chinese funeral ca. 1900 – Gilbert house at right.  The present bay window has not yet been added, and the central chimney is in place over the west bay. The west bay of the Gilbert House falls parallel to Gilbert Street, which likely provided historic primary access to the brewery facility. It is constructed primarily of locally quarried Andesite stone and set with raised joint lime mortar. The quality of craftsmanship evident in the stone cutting, shaping, setting and mortar work strongly indicates the involvement of a highly skilled stone mason or masons, and an obvious attempt to create a permanent structure on the site. The stonework is masterfully rendered and holds strong resemblance to similar cut Andesite structures in Virginia City, most notably the Masonic Lodge, ca. 1867 and the present Pioneer Bar, also constructed in the same year. It is therefore speculated that the stone portion of the Gilbert Residence was also constructed during this period, owing to correlation between the masonry fabric, and the known activity of the brewing operation.  

Photo Courtesy of the Montana Historical Society

Charles Bovey holding son, Ford Bovey in front of the Gilbert House in 1948.

Photo Courtesy of the Charlie Bovey Collection

A 19th century artist rendering presents the earliest known image of the Gilbert residence and brewing operation.  Note- The easternmost bay is not present.

Gilbert Brewery Residence 2020
Gilbert Brewery residence 2020 Virginia City, Montana

Gilbert House Today

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Gilbert House Virginia City, Montana historical plaque