It took volunteer Tom Nance about a month to clean out the basement at the Wah Chong Tai mercantile building, built in 1899.
Treasures, measured in bits and pieces, popped to the fore after he hauled mostly stacked wood from the dusty rectangular space.
The little discoveries add up to tell more of the story about the history of the building, on the first block of West Mercury Street, and in the heart of what was once Butte’s thriving Chinatown.
For example, in what Nance called “uncharted territory,” he and Dick Gibson, Mai Wah Society secretary, discovered the manner in which the building was heated.
However, they aren’t offering any more about that at this time.
The heating kicker is reserved for a “Below the Scenes” members-only tour on Sunday to wrap up the tourist season.
Sunday tour invites new members
Non-members who want to take the Wah Chong Tai "Behind the Scenes" basement tour at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, may join the Mai Wah Society at various membership levels at maiwah.org/membership.shtml. Mai Wah secretary Dick Gibson said he’s “overjoyed” with the current 100-count membership, but he welcomes more.
Tour reservations are necessary; email to email@example.com by Sept. 25.
Membership accounts for about one quarter of the group’s operating budget.