Timothy Collins, an Irish immigrant and founder of the first bank in Great Falls, Mont., was understandably proud of his new mansion, one of the swankiest buildings in the 1880s downtown. But two years after he moved in, it burned down.
Collins's second try, a Queen Anne Victorian finished in 1891, still stands. Now a five-room bed-and-breakfast, the Collins Mansion gleams in a quiet neighborhood. "Seven years ago, my aunt got married on the lawn here and I fell in love," says Andrea Gouchenour, who bought the property last June.
The mansion, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is lucky to have its original wood paneling, wainscoting, and intricate oak, cherry, and birch floors—amenities too costly to replicate today. "I didn't have to think twice when it came up for sale," Gouchenour says. "Although it did require some thought to line up the furniture to fill 8,000 square feet." From $75. (866) 939-4262, www.thecollinsmansion.com .
Photography courtesy Robert L. Stillwell
This article was first published in May 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.