Tour Montana’s original Governor’s Mansion and step into Montana’s Old West

The capital city of Helena in Southwest Montana is home to a wealth of historic and cultural gems from the community’s rough-and-tumble gold mining past. One residence, in particular, gives visitors an authentic view into the wealth and influence of early Montana and its capital city.

The Original Governor’s Mansion, built in 1888 by Helena entrepreneur William Chessman, has served both private and public roles. Chessman built the three-story, Queen Anne-style mansion for his wife, Penelope, and their two children. Financial difficulties forced the Chessmans to leave their well-to-do Victorian lifestyle and handsome brick home in 1900. Railroad contractor Peter Larson and his wife, Margaret, then resided in the mansion, followed in 1911 by Harfield and Kathryn Conrad of the influential Conrad family of Great Falls.

In 1913, the state of Montana purchased the house as the first official governor’s residence. For nearly a half century, nine Montana governors and their families lived in the mansion, until 1959 when a new Montana governor’s residence was built.

Although the home has had many residents and guests, the stately structure itself is largely unchanged and furnishings have only been partially updated through the years. Today, the home is fully restored and registered on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also a Partner Place of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is operated by the Montana Historical Society, which gives public tours and highlights the mischievous and captivating stories of its former occupants.


Southwest Montana, formerly known as Gold West Country, is a large swath of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and hearty communities smack dab in between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.  Southwest Montana offers a sampling of all of Montana’s lightly-tread amenities, including mega-mountains, lunker trout, budding melting pots for art and culture in Butte and Helena, remote yet luxurious escapes, and a slice of the Wild West through the numerous and well-preserved ghost towns in its mineral-rich hills.

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