Missoula’s historic neighborhoods

Missoula Co Missoula East Pine HDTo wrap up this multi-post look at Missoula and Missoula County, let’s take a brief look at the city’s historic neighborhoods.  With seven historic districts, Missoula is rich in domestic architecture, and not only the homes built during its rise and boom from the early 1880s to the 1920s–there also are strong architectural traditions from the post-World War II era.  This post, however, will focus on the early period, using the South Side and East Pine historic districts as examples.

IMG_7667Listed in the National Register of Historic Places 25 years ago, the south side district was platted in 1890, with development especially booming after the turn of the century and the arrival of the Milwaukee Road depot by 1910.  Within that 20 year period, an impressive grouping of domestic architecture, shaped by such leading architects as A. J. Gibson, was constructed, and much of it remains today.  When the state historic preservation office designated the district in 1991, there were over 200 contributing buildings.

IMG_7659The neighborhood contains some of the city’s best examples of Queen Anne style, as seen above but also has many different examples of other popular domestic styles of the era, such as the American Four-square and variations on the various commonplace turn of the century types as the bungalow.

As true in so many turn of the century neighborhoods, various community institutions were crucial to growth and development and historic churches and schools help to define the place even if they are used for different purposes today.

Missoula Co Missoula church  south side

IMG_7673Apartment blocks and duplexes from the turn of the century also are important contributing buildings to the neighborhood.  They reflect the demand for housing in a rapidly growing early 20th century western city.

The East Pine Street historic district is on the north side of the Clark’s Fork River, and its long, linear plan reflects the planning assumptions of what is often called the City Beautiful Movement of the turn of the century–that homes should be set on large lots, with a boulevard-type median dividing the street, giving an urban environment a bit of a country estate feel. Governor Joseph Dixon hired A. J. Gibson to build his mansion along the street and the neighborhood long held the reputation as the city’s most exclusive.

 

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But the grand architectural statement is not the only defining feature of the East Pine Street neighborhood–here too are more vernacular variations from the 1870s to 1900 domestic architecture, while stuck here and there you also find mid-20th century modern styles anchoring the neighborhood.

Missoula Co Missoula East Pine HD 11Before we leave Missoula, I want to also briefly consider its historic 1884 cemetery, an often forgotten place as it is located on the northside of the Northern Pacific Railroad corridor, and a property, like so many in 1984-1985, I gave no consideration to as I carried out the fieldwork for the state historic preservation plan.

Missoula Co Missoula Cemetery

Missoula Co Missoula CemeteryFort Missoula has the Missoula ‘s oldest cemetery but the city cemetery developed within a year of the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad.  The entrance gates were erected in 1905. The cemetery reflects the design ideas of the 19th century Rural Cemetery Movement , with curvilinear drives, large canopies of trees, and an overall naturalistic, serene setting.

Missoula Co Missoula Cemetery 7A large concrete cross and adjacent river rock stone lined marker pay homage to the cemetery’s earliest burials as well as the many first citizens interred here.

As expected, there are many grave markers from the 1890s to the 1930s, and several good representative examples of the mortuary art associated with the late Victorian and early 20th century eras.

The fraternal organizations of the late 19th century also are well represented, with the Masonic marker given a primary location within the cemetery’s looping driveways. Its symbolism of the broken column is matched by that of the Order of the Eastern Star.

I must admit that my favorite monument in the cemetery returns us to a theme that I have discussed across the state–the importance of remembering and commemorating the Civil War in late 19th and early 20th century Montana.  Monuments related to this theme were another under-explored aspect of my 1984-1985 work; today I remain intrigued by just how much Civil War memorialization exists in Montana.

 

The Missoula City Cemetery’s obelisk marker takes on added meaning due to its relative scarcity.  In 1905, the Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary of the post-war Grand Army of Republic, erected this memorial.  Scholarship is relatively scant on the Women’s Relief Corps, although a colleague of mine, Dr. Antoinette van Zelm, is making headway on this issue.  Compared to the pro-South United Daughters of the Confederacy, the WRC is little recognized today.  But this marker shows their devotion to Union veterans buried at the City Cemetery.

 

 

The Copper King’s Bitterroot Stock Farm

IMG_0632Marcus Daly, the copper magnate of Butte and Anaconda, certainly put his stamp on the landscape of Silver Bow and Deer Lodge counties.  But not until the early 1980s did most Montanans understand that Daly too had shaped the landscape of the Bitterroot Valley with the creation and expansion of his Bitterroot Stock Farm, starting in 1886 and continuing even beyond his death in 1900.

It is a stunning landscape, framed by the mountains and railroad tracks, crisscrossed by irrigation ditches.  Daly created the ranch to specialize in livestock breeding and the development of thoroughbred race horses.  The only Montana horse to win the Belmont Stakes came from Daly’s “farm.”  Like other titans of industry and capital of the late 19th century, Daly wished to not only demonstrate his entry into the gentry of America but also

IMG_2586to have a place, on the other side of the divide from his dark, dank, smelly mining towns, where he and his family could escape and enjoy Montana’s open lands and skies. The ranch began with the purchase of the Chaffin family homestead in 1886.  Daly immediately set forth to remodel and expand the older ranchhouse yet those changes only lasted three years when Daly replaced the first house with a rather grand and flamboyant Queen Anne-styled mansion and named it Riverside.  Daly died in 1900 and Riverside’s last grand remodeling was guided by his wife, who looked to architect A. J. Gibson of Missoula to design a Colonial Revival-on-steroids mansion, which referenced the recent Roosevelt family mansion on the Hudson River in New York State.

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The classical styled ceremonial entrance to Riverside

 

IMG_2581There is really nothing in the world of domestic architecture in Montana to compare to the Daly family’s Riverside estate.  As we made our plans for the state historic preservation survey in 1984, I never imagined gaining access to this mysterious place.  Then, suddenly, the owners decided to offer the property to someone–the state preferably but locals if necessary–who could transform it into a historic house museum and still working farm.

 

Here then came a great opportunity but also a daunting task–could be the property be saved, and how would such a huge property be maintained, considering the comparatively low attendance rates received by historic houses.

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In time, a partnership was established between the local Daly Mansion Preservation Trust and the University of Montana to open the house in the summer as a museum but to conserve the farm as an invaluable agricultural asset throughout all seasons.

The result has been one of the most important “gains” in historic preservation in Montana in the last 30 years.  The property has been saved but historic preservation needs continue, with projects both large and small taking place on a regular basis.

A Northern Rockies “great house” is the result–a sign of the great disparity of wealth between miners and owners, and between absentee large estate ranchers and surrounding ranch families pulling a living from the land.  Daly never saw the mansion as you do today–it was Margaret who decided to take the grand estate in the direction of the fashionable Colonial Revival.  Yet it remains a monument to his domination of the western Montana landscape, as powerful in its own way as his head frames in Butte.

One key component of the estate has moved on to a new life.  The ornate 1895 stable for Tammany–his prize horse–has been converted in residential units, for people. Tammany Castle also speaks to who Daly was and what he was about in late 19th century Montana.

IMG_2595Indeed not far away is a 21st century sign of the super-rich and their imprint on the Montana landscape: the Stock Farm Club, a private, gated community for those who can afford it–and probably 99% cannot.