The historic "Banque" Building on the corner of Main and Third in Hamilton has a new paint job with a copper trim as a tribute to Copper King Marcus Daly.
Daly had the building built in 1895. In that era, it was the first state chartered bank in Montana and Daly was its first president.
Chuck Shonkwiler, TrailWest Bank board member and president of the Ravalli County branches, said the building's history is interesting.
“It was a bank until 1962. when the Ravalli County Bank moved to Pinckney Avenue because drive-through banking was becoming popular,” Shonkwiler said.
The building was sold at that time, and the new owners opened a restaurant in that location. It is against state law to name a business a bank – spelled with a k – unless you are one, so they called it The Banque Club,” Shonkwiler said.
The second floor was professional offices, like law and dental, and eventually was converted to apartments. Next, it became a sports bar - The Exchange -with room in the back to host large meetings and club lunches for the Kiwanis, Rotary and Lyons.
When the recession came in 2008, the building was auctioned and purchased back by the Ravalli County Bank, which remodeled the upstairs and used the second floor for its residential real-estate department.
In 2012, Ravalli County Bank merged with the Bitterroot Valley Bank in Lolo and changed the name to TrailWest Bank a few years ago.
Currently, the 8,000 square foot building has the Taco Del Sol restaurant in a downstairs portion and the rest of the building is unoccupied.
Shonkwiler said he realized it was time to repaint and beautify the historic building.
“The copper accent was my decision to honor the fact that it was a Marcus Daly building. He was one of our state’s three copper kings,” he said. “We would like to sell the building at some point in the future. Northwest Fencing did a beautiful job on the painting.”
Northwest Fencing, owned by Marlin Ostrander Sr. and Marlin Ostrander Jr., did the painting through weeks of smoke.
“Bruce Butler and Eric Arnold ... are licensed contractors for us who work in various capacities,” Marlin Ostrander Sr. said. “It’s been tedious because of the age of the building; the mortar crumbles so we couldn’t power wash so the whole building had to be scraped by hand - inch by inch.”