Margaret Daly (1853-1941) took an executive role in the daily operations of the Bitterroot Stock Farm. She hired dependable, efficient employees, and was known to be quite the entertainer. Dinners at the home were always formal, and after most evening meals, coffee was served on the sun porch. Mrs. Daly would gather the children around her right before bedtime and read stories to them in the sitting room.
Mrs. Daly also had a philanthropic streak measuring a yard wide and a foot deep. She helped the Boy Scouts financially, enabling them to bring about the first scout camp in the Skalkaho area. She also donated land for the area’s first library to be constructed, and in memory of her husband, built the Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital.
After Marcus Daly’s death in 1900, Margaret had the home remodeled into the present structure. The Georgian Revival style Mansion was drafted by noted Missoula architect A.J. Gibson and finished in 1910.
The building occupies 24,000 square feet on three floors, with twenty five bedrooms, fifteen bathrooms, and seven fireplaces, five of which are faced with imported Italian marble.
Some of the primary rooms include a broad living room, a formal dining room, a music room, a sun room, an upstairs sitting room, a third floor billiard hall, and a trophy room which was annexed in 1914.
Mansion grounds showcase fifty species of trees, a tennis court, a greenhouse, a boathouse, and a laundry building. Following Mrs. Daly’s death in 1941, her elegant abode was boarded up until 1987, when it was opened to the public.
Various renovation projects to the elegant abode have been going on for the past three years. “Our primary focus has been with raising funds to restore this extraordinary home,” said Cheryl Dorn, events and membership coordinator for the Daly Mansion.
With a large portion of the estate’s fundraising goals achieved, the Daly Mansion Preservation Society has finally been able to begin its major restorations. They have installed a new heating system and completed the first phase of upgrading the building’s archaic electric system.
Today, this historic getaway continually entertains visitors from all around the country. The residence and its grounds offer tours, special projects and events, including picnics, weddings, reunions, murder mysteries, doll shows, concerts, and a unique Christmas open house. “We invite the public to come and utilize the mansion,” said Dorn. “Even if they want to use it as a place to simply come and relax, for sitting on the covered deck and playing checkers.”
The Daly Mansion, recognized as a National Historic Site, is owned by the State of Montana, and operated and maintained by the Daly Mansion Preservation Trust. Arguably, the comeliest and most historically significant structure in the Bitterroot, the residence provides a supremely revealing and reminding glimpse of bygone times and the contrasting days of yesteryear.
The Daly Mansion is located in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley, just outside the town of Hamilton. (Approximately 45 miles south of Missoula, Montana on Highway 269, at mile marker 2)