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Daly Mansion offers 'Feature Tour Series'
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Daly Mansion offers 'Feature Tour Series'

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The Daly Mansion is offering a "Feature Tour Series" with deeper historical details on select topics for the winter months, January through April.

Similar to the “Holiday Traditions Tours” held in December, mansion historians will have in-depth research and corresponding displays to show for tours the last two weeks of each month.

Courtney Hartelius, events coordinator, said the tours “give our guests more interesting historical facts so they can learn even more than what we provide on a regular tour.”

The tour theme for January is “Mapping the Origins Story of the Bitter Root Stock Farm;” February, "The Daly Era by Design;” March, "Introducing the Dalys;" and April, "Then & Now: How the Mansion was Restored."

January’s tours “Mapping the Origins Story of the Bitter Root Stock Farm” will focus on the lands and planning of the Stock Farm featuring maps by Gary Liss.

Liss said the mapping project is not a complete history of the Bitter Root Stock Farm (BRSF) but rather a study of the evolution of land ownership. The tour begins with homesteaders in the 1870s and continues with information about lands acquired by Marcus and Margaret Daly, including the BRSF Corporation formed in 1901. Liss said he researched property boundaries by studying deeds, government homestead patents and other public land records.

“All maps have a story to tell, and these maps have their own historical narrative to tell once you begin reading them,” Liss said. “The historical place is tied to the present-day place by combining historical locations and boundaries with today's map, allowing the map reader to get properly oriented.”

Liss said the goal of this map series is looking at the Bitter Root Stock Farm spatially and adding to existing knowledge.

“Hopefully, ‘following the deeds’ has added something useful to what we already know about our own local history here in Hamilton, a beautiful place with a rich history,” he said.

There will also be displays from the Daly Mansion archives including ledgers and deeds with extensive historic research by mansion archivists Mo Lischke and Sue Thackrey about the land.

“The intention is to give attention to the land and the history of what comprises Hamilton,” Hartelius said. “We’re giving more information on how much of an impact this family had and still influences us today. There are still two well-known Hamilton families that own some of the original ranch houses — the Duce family and the Leonardi family.”

Tour goers will enter the kitchen to read about the earliest homesteads that Marcus Daly purchased, like Chaffin and Pardee, with maps, plots and plans from the earliest records. On the second floor will be information about the earliest ranches that comprised the Stock Farm, such as the Gilchrist. There will be historical and current photos.

On the third floor the display case will have Stock Farm ledgers and original deeds from when Marcus Daly was purchasing land. Center stage of the billiard room will have Liss’s maps that include the homesteads and how they were situated near Hamilton. An interactive aspect will be that patrons can look at a map to see if they live on what was Stock Farm land and pin their current residence.

There will be early documents of the different farms and their main production crops that Hartelius believes have never been made public.

“The ranches that made up the Bitter Root Stock Farm had different focuses of what they produced,” Hartelius said. “Some focused on barley, others on wheat, oats, corn, orchards, fruits and vegetables. There was a dairy. The food raised on the Stock Farm was for grocery stores in Hamilton, the town was self-sustaining.”

Mrs. Daly’s original design for the land around the mansion is in the main living room on the main floor. Orchard, tennis court, garden and flower bed locations are detailed. According to the drawing, Mrs. Daly meant to have a Japanese garden and a lily pond.

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The “Mapping the Origins Story of the Bitter Root Stock Farm” tours will run from Monday, Jan. 18, through Saturday, Jan. 23, and again Monday, Jan. 25 through Saturday, Jan. 30.

The tours in late February focus on "The Daly Era by Design" the history behind the physical aspects of the mansion with details about the "physical aspects of the mansion with details about the wallpaper, furnishings and more.”

The tours in late March are "Introducing the Dalys.”

“We’ll bring up correspondence made between family members,” Hartelius said. “We’ll also be pulling up some more candid family photos so patrons can see they were real people who enjoyed the mansion and gardens. We’ll have some information from archivists Mo Lischke.”

The late April Feature Tours are "Then & Now: How the Mansion was Restored.”

Hartelius said she is most excited about this tour topic.

“We’ll bring up photos about the restoration process and feature locals who helped restore the mansion,” she said. “The more I learned about it the more I see the town of Hamilton really rallied together to bring the mansion up to what it is now. I’ve always heard about how much effort it took and how much love went into restoring the mansion.”

She said the tours will showcase some of the in-depth research done by mansion archivists. The archive room in the mansion is full of file cabinets of information, maps, correspondence and ledgers of the Stock Farm and Marcus Daly’s horses.

Scheduled for two weeks at the end of each month the tour times are 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tour reservations need to be prepaid, call 24-hours in advance and wear face coverings inside.

Executive Director Darlene Gould said the tours are a replacement for the spring speaker’s series, canceled due to COVID-19.

“I’m hoping the tours will appeal to some of the folks that usually would come to our speaker series because we can do the different themed tours tour a lot easier,” Gould said. “There are more options for people to attend.”

Gould said the tours have safety protocols in place during the time of COVID. The tours are self-guided but mansion staff and docents will be available.

“We are safe,” she said. “The Christmas tours went really well, and our tours are tried and true. We always appreciate and appreciate people’s decisions. If you want to come we’d love for you to come and if you don’t come now we hope you’ll come when the pandemic is over.”

Gould said the health of guests, staff and articles are taken into consideration.

“We have some rooms closed off that normally let people walk through but we just can’t clean the artifacts, the cleaner is harsh,” she said. “These protocols are for all of us and our museum.”

To schedule and pay for a tour call 406-363-6004. Prices are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors 60+/military, $8 for youth age 6-17 and children age 5 and under get in free.

The Daly Mansion is located at 251 Eastside Highway, Hamilton. The mansion does have an elevator.

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