120 South Last Chance Gulch
The mission of the Lewis and Clark Library is to provide the best possible services and materials for informational, cultural, or recreational use by the community.
In 1868, a number of prominent Helena citizens formed the Helena Library Association and established Helena's (and Montana's) first public library--four years after gold was discovered on Last Chance Gulch. Judge Cornelius Hedges, Colonel Wilbur F. Sanders, J.W. Whitlach, and Ben Stickner, Jr., solicited subscriptions, drafted a constitution, and set up the library in the first floor of the Whitlach Building. This would be the first of many homes.
From 1870 to 1874 the library was housed in a stone and brick building owned by Holter and Hedges on the west side of Main Street. In 1874, fire destroyed much of the Helena business section, including the library. Over 2,500 volumes and all the important donor records and documents from those first important years were lost to us forever.