Prior to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) putting their support behind the Democratic Party, laborers often supported the Socialist Party. An early 20th-century political party that empowered the working class to seek a better representation of their interests.
Inspired by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and immigrant socialist Finns, the Socialist Party of Montana was a popular political party in the state’s mining boomtowns. By 1911, the Socialist Party in Butte held the city government with Lewis Duncan as the mayor.
The Socialist Hall was constructed in 1916 and was utilized for labor organizing, such as the Metal Mine Workers’ Industrial Union No. 800.
However, during that time, concern began to grow in the United States that the Russian worker revolution would export to American soil. This led to a crackdown on socialist organizations and the movement as a whole. Known and suspected socialists were blacklisted from jobs and the AFL kicked out socialist sympathizers. The “Red Scare” as it came to be known would make the Socialist Party obsolete by the end of the 1920s.
Today, the Socialist Hall is preserved with a pawn shop.
Know Before You Go
The pawnshop (Fran Johnson's Sports Shop and Pawn) housed in the Socialist Hall is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., closed on Sundays.