William Boyce Thompson and his wife, Gertrude Hickman, were born in Virginia City to parents of early pioneers. The couple moved to New York City, but retained local ties. The Thompsons provided the funds to build this facility housing a public library and historical collections. Frank A. Colby and Thomas A. Bruno of New York City designed and constructed the building. Work began in 1918 with the laying of the cornerstone; items sealed inside include coins and Thompson and Hickman family histories.
Mayor Jacob Albright and Harry E. Hall served as overseers of construction. Built of locally quarried blue-gray stone, the public facility opened in 1922.
Generous fireplaces and huge bookcases at either end welcomed patrons to the upper-level reading room and public library. While residents established the first library as early as 1865, the Virginia City Women's Club organized the current library, in 1902. The ground floor museum features local artifacts, photographs, and collections of early Alder Gulch, much of it acquired by former Virginia City mayors James Emslie and James Walker.
This property contributes to the Virginia City Historic District · Listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior · In cooperation with the Montana Historical Society