Dr. Don L. Byam House

Also known as: Fenner House
Main St., Nevada City, Montana


Dr. Don L. Byam House Nevada City MT

Photo taken by David Jones in August 2019




"Light timber framing with board-and-batten walls characterizes this early home original to the Nevada City townsite. Inside, the original, well-preserved, muslin-covered walls are a rare example of a frontier decorating technique. The cabinís first occupants were Dr. Don Byam and his family, who came to Alder Gulch in 1863 after someone jumped their claim near Bannack. Elected judge of the minerís court, Dr. Byam presided over the murder trial of George Ives, held on Nevada Cityís main street in December 1863. Ives, convicted and hanged, was incarcerated during the trial in the small cabin behind the house. The trial was the catalyst for forming the Vigilantes. During the Civil War in Confederate-dominated Alder Gulch, Dr. Byam was a member of the anti-Confederate Union League of America. Clandestine meetings were held in the Byam attic. The Byams moved on and Samuel B. Wonderly next owned the house. He removed the original false front and added the gable as camp phase architecture gave way to the settlement period. Lawrence Fenner and his wife Amanda moved into the house in 1875. They remained in Nevada City long after almost everyone else had moved away. Fenner, a Union League activist and self-styled Vigilante like Dr. Byam, was a civil engineer and inventor. He obtained the US Mineral Patent on the Nevada City townsite in 1878 and was the first to dredge in the area using a method he invented. After Fenner died in 1915, Amanda stayed on and died here in 1930 at 84." - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 1, 2002
Reference number
NR name
Byam, Dr. Don L., House
Architectural style
Other architectural type; False Front
Areas of significance
Exploration/Settlement; Architecture; Politics/Government
Levels of significance
State; Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; B - Person; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Single dwelling
Current function
Periods of significance
1850-1874; 1875-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974
Significant years
1863; 1864; 1869
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2

Update Log 

  • August 22, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information
  • August 22, 2019: New photos from David Jones