It's official: The Butte Labor History Center, a hub to highlight the city's most important union episodes, will open next year.
Ted Ackerman, Cheryl Ackerman and historian Dick Gibson closed on a sale Monday on a property at 49 W. Park St. in the Miner Bank Building.
The Ackermans own the Butte Stuff shop adjacent to the west. They bought the building from Peter and Stephanie Sorini, who owned the building for 13 years.
“Now that we have a place for sure, it will basically be a space for the Butte labor history story that has unfolded here,” said Gibson, spokesman for the buyers.
“In my mind, it’s probably the single most underrepresented part of Butte history,” Gibson added. “We have mines and ethnic groups, but there’s not really something that focuses only on Butte labor history.”
The new center will be tourist attraction, as well. But first the center must become incorporated.
Built in 1913, the building will house the center on the main floor, a spacious room that perfectly fits the trio’s vision of what a labor history center should be.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Cheryl Ackerman, who works at the Butte Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce front desk. “It’s going to be a great addition to Park Street and Butte in general.”
Twisted Designs boutique has already moved out of the space at 49 W. Park St. right next door to the east.
The Butte Labor History Center founders have three sponsors so far, but they seek several more. They plan to hang huge interpretive banners in the space and eventually post interactive touch screens and audio stations highlighting prominent Butte historical labor figures like controversial leader Frank Little.
“Basically, you’ll walk across the room to view the banners in chronological order,” said Gibson. “I don’t expect we’ll have artifacts, so the center wouldn’t compete in any way with the Mining Museum. But we hope to co-exhibit with the Butte Silver Bow Archives and the Mining Museum.”
Sorinis are gung-ho about the new sale and new project.
“We couldn’t be happier that they bought it,” Stephanie Sorini told The Montana Standard on Friday. “It gave us the opportunity to give Ackermans something grand to do with it, and it allows us up to concentrate on the YMCA building project.”
The Sorinis bought the old YMCA building on the corner of Park and Washington Streets last year. They plan to remodel it, transforming the multi-level property into housing and retail business space.
One of the foremost union towns in America, Butte is finally getting a dedicated place to hawk its rich union history on an educational and commercial level.
“I’m optimistic that the lab unions themselves will want to be involved," Gibson said, "because it will be a showcase for their story.”