If you descend into the basement of Hirbour Tower — which, according to Butte lore, was once the site of a speakeasy — you’ll encounter a substance that some might consider among the world’s greatest vices.
But what you’ll find there isn’t alcohol – it's cake.
Kelley Klamp, owner of For Heaven's Cakes, a bakery that has been dishing up custom cakes and macaroons in Butte since 2016, is now occupying the space.
Klamp isn’t the first tenant to occupy the unit, which is equipped with a commercial kitchen. The unit’s previous tenant, Speakeasy Cheesecakes, also served sweets from the basement-level suite starting in 2015.
Klamp closed her previous location at 33 N. Main St. in December to spend more time with her family and to rethink her business model.
“It was a large location, so we needed to downsize and lower our overhead,” said Klamp.
The new location is about 1,000 square feet, Klamp said, about one-tenth of the size of her first location.
In addition to the new space, Klamp also has a new concept for the business.
She’s now focusing on special orders almost exclusively and hasn’t yet decided if she’ll reinstate the public-facing component of the business – the elaborately decorated cupcakes and macaroons lined up for sale that the bakery has come to be known for.
She added that For Heaven's Cakes will soon be offering cake decorating classes, which she hopes to roll out in March.
As for the new space in Hirbour Tower, 102 N. Main St., it boasts a vibe that is as illicit as devil's food cake.
To get to the bakery, one has to descend through a vaulted sidewalk on a metal staircase to an industrial door, where Klamp can be hailed with the push of a buzzer.
Upon entering the basement, visitors are greeted by a room dressed up as a barber shop where a curious heavy vaulted door is situated on a far wall.
As Klamp explained it, a barbershop once resided in the basement, and beyond the vault door (where the bakery now resides) is a secret room that was once a speakeasy.
According to local historian Richard Gibson, there’s no written evidence that the space was a bona-fide speakeasy.
But what does seem certain is that there’s a “comfortable speculation that it was an illicit drinking space,” Gibson said.
Gibson said a barbershop indeed existed in the basement from about 1928 to 1969 — appropriately called Hirbour Barbershop — and he believes the owner of the shop may have offered drinks to some of his patrons, though it’s not known in what capacity.
Nonetheless, Gibson said, that doesn’t detract from the uniqueness of the space nor the contribution of the building, circa 1901, to Butte’s architectural landscape.
Oklahoma couple Sam and Susan Stone, who occupy the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors of the tower, are responsible for the basement’s renovation and the renovation of the street-level floor, where clothing boutique Kally's Korner resides. The couple purchased the two floors in 2015, according to previous news stories.
As a business owner, Klamp describes herself as someone who doesn’t give up.
She said she’s had lots of ups and downs since moving from Boulder to Butte to open her bakery, including in 2016 when she became a noted figure in a public debate about panhandling and its impact on Uptown businesses.
During the debate, she was quoted in The Montana Standard, and some Butte residents — perhaps taking things she said out of context, Klamp said — called her on the phone to give her a piece of their minds. But she has made amends with some of those callers by being able to speak with them on the phone.
Nonetheless, Klamp said, she’s grown a lot since relocating to the Mining City.
“Butte has done a lot of great things for me, and I’ve met a lot of great people,” said Klamp. “Without everything I know now, I wouldn’t be the person I am. I’m willing to admit my faults and find a better way to make the business work. It’s easy to give up. It takes effort to keep trying.”