The last great cigar store: the history of the M&M Bar in Butte

M&M Bar history
Posted at 7:34 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 21:46:36-04

BUTTE — The last great cigar store has fallen in Uptown Butte. The M&M Bar went up in flames early Friday morning, the roof collapsed inward, and the historic building has been completely gutted. The history behind the M&M is a vast one.

"So the M&M was constructed in the early 1890s by two gentlemen, Martin and Mosby and they built it as a pool hall and so the building served as a pool hall and saloon up until the late 90s," said Ellen Crain, Archives Director.

The M&M operated 24/7 for well over a hundred years. The doors were always unlocked. One story told that the owner flushed the keys down the toilet. During prohibition, M&M followed other Butte bars and became a cigar store, using that as a front to hide a speakeasy that was operating in the backroom.

There was a bowling alley in the basement, the first floor was dedicated to eating and drinking, the second floor was reserved for gambling. The gambling moved to a back room in the basement where poker tables and a keno cage operated.

When the eatery closed its doors in the 90s, Bud Walker and his son bought the building in 2004 and reopened it in 2005 after refurbishing the building. They received an offer they couldn’t refuse and sold the building.

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The last great cigar store has fallen in Uptown Butte.

Walker was there watching firefighters work to keep the flames controlled. "It’s sad, it is. Before we even owned it you know it was a place we used to come all the time and it’s just it’s a sad thing," Walker said.

After Walker sold the building, the M&M was sold again this time to Selina Pankovich.

The M&M became different things to different people, but one thing is for sure, it will be missed. "I feel like I’ve lost my best friend," Crain said.

"Appreciated everybody who supported it over the years, and just it’s too bad it's gonna go away," Walker said.

Butte will miss this historical landmark, but it’s the people, not the place, that will keep the memories alive.