Born in 1839, Williams Andrews Clark worked on a farm until he was fourteen years old. He attended law school for two years, taught from 1859 to 1860, then moved westward to try his luck with the Gold Rush in 1862. Arriving in Butte a few years late, Clark invested his profit by helping other miners—bringing supplies, recording claims, and making loans. He expanded his business ventures to newspapers, oil wells, railways, and sugar plantations and even served as a Montana senator from 1901 to 1907. In Butte, Clark bought several mines, built the first successful smelter and stamp mill in 1879, and established a water company, an electric light company, and an electric railway. Estimates on his wealth range from $50 to $200 million.
Architect D.T. McDevitt and the construction firm W.F. Beall & Co. built the Copper King Mansion from 1884 to 1888. The imported materials cost the family about $200,000. Experts estimate the entire construction cost to be half a million dollars—equivalent to about half a day’s income for Clark. The home is a thirty-four room Romanesque Revival Victorian mansion. Its rounded arches over various doors and windows, cavernous entryways, thick masonry walls, and stone and brick facades are characteristics of Romanesque Revival architecture. Its asymmetrical design, large windows, stained glass, and decorative trim characterize Victorian architecture. The interior contains frescoed ceilings, hand-carved woodwork, and antique furnishings.
Ann Cote bought the Copper King Mansion in 1953, and her family continues to use and care for it. The mansion serves as a Bed and Breakfast year round. From May 1 to September 30, guides lead tours through the mansion from 10AM to 4PM. Tours include the history of the mansion, the people who built it, its architecture, and the many original artifacts located throughout the mansion. Bedrooms retain their style from one hundred years ago with large beds, impressive woodwork, and a personal connection to the people that lived there. Rooms are labeled according to which family member resided there. Guests can stay in the same room where Williams Andrews Clark slept—contributing to an authentic experience. Restoration efforts in 2011 revitalized the exterior of the mansion. Visitors can experience living like a “Copper King.”