A historic Havre building is celebrating a 35th anniversary Saturday, with the Atrium Shopping Mall hosting a special flower show and a pie social fundraiser.
Faye James, events coordinator for the Atrium, said activities will continue through the year, including the annual Festival Days celebration in September.
“We’re going to have some good times there, ” she said.
The building, which originally was the first installment of a multi-state commercial empire, was purchased by a group of Havre businessmen in 1977 and was converted into the shopping mall as which it still operates today.
The building started as Buttrey Department Store, owned and operated by Frank A. and Jane (Boucher) Buttrey. It was F. A. Buttrey’s third store.
Buttrey, born in London, Ontario, Canada, in 1868, had moved to Montana by 1889.
His first store, which he opened in 1896, was in the mining town of Aldridge, Mont., where he also served as postmaster. He sold the store and opened his second in another mining community that became Chimney Creek, also serving as postmaster there.
He moved to Havre in 1902, saying he believed the young community had a great potential for growth. He opened the Fair Deal Store here in 1902.
Buttrey’s store was one of the casualties of the Great Havre Fire of 1904, which destroyed much of the downtown business section of the young city in January of that year.
Buttrey, who temporarily opened his store in another building, announced in April 1904 that he was constructing a new home for Buttrey Department Store, and work began on the building that now houses the Atrium.
By the time of his death April 14, 1949, at 80, Buttrey had opened his department stores that included groceries in 26 Montana communities.
After his death, the operation continued to expand, eventually opening 53 stores in Montana, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
The Havre department store’s grocery department, which moved from the building that now houses Aaron’s and Office Equipment to a new building on 1st and 7th Street — now Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods — operated as Buttreys until Albertsons purchased the company in 1998.
Faye James said the new operation started in 1977, when a group of Havre businessmen purchased the building to reopen as a shopping mall.
James said Havre businessman Don Vaupel soon became the sole owner.
Vaupel — a pharmacist who built a commercial empire of his own with a chain of 14 drug stores across the state — soon proposed a $1.5 million investment, James said.
The work included tearing out the center parts of the old department store and opening up the building to the skylights on its roof, installing escalators and making other improvements to the building.
Just a year before he died at 88, Vaupel sold the Atrium to Dave and Kris Shaw, owners of Stellar Computer Consulting in the Atrium, in 2004.
In celebration of 35 years as the Atrium, the events begin Saturday with the second annual Atrium Flower Show hosted by the Vista Volunteers, and a pie social fundraiser for the Havre Girl Scouts.
Proceeds from the pie social, set to run 2 to 4 p. m., will go toward work on the roof of the Havre Girl Scout House, part of the group’s activities during the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of America.
The entries in the flower show will be donated to Northern Montana Care Center in Havre. Voting for the competition will be from 1 to 4 p. m.
James said people will cast their vote by dropping money into a jar by each entry, with the entry earning the most cash winning the competition. The winner will receive a cash prize, with the size of the award depending on the amount cast as votes.