Preservation People

It is people -- great people! -- who make preservation happen and we are always delighted with those who are starting fresh, and indebted to those who move on. With this Preserve Montana update, we take time to give warm welcomes and say sad farewells. 


New CEO for History Foundation

MPA extends an enthusiastic welcome to Charlene Porsild, PhD, who will take the helm of the Montana History Foundation. A native of Canada’s Yukon, Dr. Porsild is an historian, administrator, and fundraiser with over 25 years of experience in higher education, museums, archives, and the nonprofit sector. Charlene returns to Montana after 10 years in New Mexico – eight years as a professor and administrator at the University of New Mexico (UNM), and nearly two years as Chief Development Officer and Co-Director of the Santa Fe Indian Market. Charlene was Director of the Library, Archives, and Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society from 2001 to 2005 and is delighted to be back in Helena with her husband, UNM Press editor and publisher Clark Whitehorn, and their son Noah. We at MPA are so excited to work with Charlene on many efforts to come.


Retiring and New Board Members

Courtney McKee of Butte and Charlotte Caldwell of Clyde Park, MT and Charleston, SC both took leave of the MPA Board this year to pursue professional and preservation issues more closely in their communities. Courtney brought so much knowledge and energy to MPA in such a short time, we are ever-grateful for her contributions. And Charlotte, with her amazing breadth of work with nonprofits, publishing, philanthropy, and historic preservation, truly challenged us to boost our capacity and our profile in ways we couldn't have without her insights and encouragement. Many thanks to you both!

We welcome three new board members, H. Rafael Chacon of Missoula, Kathryn Ore of Missoula, and Lucas Schad of Livingston.

H. Rafael Chacon from Missoula. Welcome to the MPA Board of Directors.

H. Rafael Chacon from Missoula. Welcome to the MPA Board of Directors.

Rafael Chacon is a professor of Art History and Criticism at the University of Montana and a great supporter of architectural history and historic preservation. The 2007 recipient of the Dorothy Ogg Award for Individual Contributions to Historic Preservation, he published a book on the life and work of Montana architect A.J. Gibson in 2008 and articles on the art of Glacier National Park in 2009 and 2010. In 2014, he published a ground-breaking article on the development of modernist architecture in Montana. Rafael travels the world for research and lectures on a wide variety of historic and cultural topics. His diverse worldview and experience will be a valuable asset to MPA.

Kathryn Ore is a Missoula native and received her Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree from the University of Oregon in 2012. She was the Review and Compliance Officer at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office from 2012 to 2014 working closely with federal and state agencies to navigate regulations of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Montana State Antiquities Act. Her work with SHPO spurred her interest in preservation and cultural resource law, which led her to pursue her Juris Doctorate at the University of Montana School of Law. Kathryn’s growing knowledge of preservation law is an asset to our work.

Lucas Schad has been a practicing architect in Livingston for more than 10 years and is currently the owner of LTS Architecture. He is currently restoring the historic Water Works building in Livingston, part of which will become his new office. Lucas was honored in past by MPA for his work to repurpose the historic Goughnor Lumber Yard building as condominiums. His current work ranges from the replacement of a cabin at Luccock Camp near Pine Creek in the Paradise Valley, to a large bank building in Glasgow, MT. Lucas’s technical knowledge and enthusiasm for historic buildings is a great addition to the wealth of knowledge held among our board members. He lives in Livingston with his wife, two boys and a brand new baby girl.

Well Wishes for Retirement

Lon Johnson

Glacier National Park’s intrepid Historic Preservation Architect, Lon Johnson, retires at the end of May after dedicating most of his career to preserving Montana’s historic places. After receiving his Bachelors Degree in Architecture in 1975 and training with practicing architects for a few years, Lon spent much of the 1980s establishing the MT State Historic Preservation Office, which was fairly new at the time. He was a historic preservation consultant at Renewable Technologies in Butte from 1989 to 1995 and returned to the Preservation Office in the mid-1990s before becoming the historical architect at Yellowstone National Park in 1999. In 2001, he took the helm as preservation architect at Glacier National Park where he spent 14 years overseeing preservation of a wide range of cultural resources from fire lookout towers to archaeological artifacts uncovered in thawed ice patches. Lon received National Park Service's 2011 Appleman-Judd-Lewis Award for excellence in Cultural Resource Management and along with his colleagues was recognized that same year by MPA for outstanding stewardship of the cultural resources in Glacier National Park. As an avid collector of midcentury furnishings, we’ll be watching for Lon at local yard and estate sales and hope to see him at more MPA events!

 Kirby Matthew

After more than 30 years with the Forest Service, Kirby Matthew, Historic Preservation Team Manager for Region One, will retire in June. Kirby has contributed to the preservation of dozens of significant Forest Service buildings in Montana, Idaho and North Dakota. Originally from Trout Creek, MT, Kirby started as a seasonal firefighter with the Forest Service in 1975 and later spent many years as an archaeologist in the Lolo and Bitterroot forests.  In the 1990s he studied preservation at the Williamsport Preservation Training Center and in 2000 became Region One Historic Preservation Team manager.  His passion for historic preservation has taken him to all parts of the state and beyond, and his work has extended the useful life and often brought back from ruin countless ranger stations, barns, lookouts and outbuildings that define the architecture of our national forest land. We will miss Kirby terribly, but expect very much to see him lending his skills as a volunteer.


Sad Farewells

Hugh Ambrose, Helena

All at MPA were terribly saddened to hear of the loss of Hugh Ambrose of Helena, one of America’s premier historians and a dedicated lover of Montana. Though he left the world too soon, his impact will be felt for generations to come.

Ambrose spent much of his distinguished career bringing to life the stories of the people and places of World War II. His 2010 book, The Pacific, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at number seven and the book became a fixture on the Times’ non-fiction list for much of that summer. The book was the basis for the highly acclaimed HBO miniseries of the same name on which Ambrose served as a consultant.

Growing up in New Orleans the youngest of five children, Hugh was introduced to Montana on regular family vacations to Big Sky Country. After elementary school in the New Orleans public school system and high school in Ireland, Hugh made his way “home” to Montana at the age of 17 to study history at the University of Montana. After receiving both his bachelors and masters degrees in History from the University of Montana, Hugh’s work as a historian, researcher and writer led him to other parts of the country, but Montana always remained home. Following his passion for the lives and stories of America’s World War II veterans, Ambrose became Vice President of Development at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, where he played a significant role in the expansion of what the United States Congress has officially declared as “America’s National World War II Museum.”

For Hugh Ambrose, family was most important. He married Andrea Loiacano in 1999 and had two children, Elsie and Brody. His quiet strength, courage and deep commitment to friends, family and community are touchstones by which Hugh lived his life. These qualities and the power of his words telling the stories of American heroes and his work memorializing those stories through his leadership at the National World War II Museum leave the world a better place for his having been here with us in it.

Raymond Barry, Lavina

Artist and avid preservationist, Raymond Barry passed away in January. Barry was the elder statesman of Lavina and had been working to restore the beautiful Adams Hotel since 2000. He was a true Montana character and was dedicated to preserving history and heritage in Central Montana. We hope that another energetic individual like Barry will continue his tireless work to restore the landmark Adams Hotel. 



Ivan Doig, Seattle

Much has been written on the life and work of Ivan Doig. Known as the Dean of Western writers, Doig grew up in Central Montana and went on to capture the true essence of life in rural Montana in many of his books. MPA and the Holter Museum in Helena sponsored Doig's last visit to Helena in 2012 where he eloquently read from his latest book, The Bartender's Tale, and gave many insights into his childhood, writing habits, and fondness for history during an afternoon of thoughtful discussion. Ivan also generously supported MPA’s efforts to highlight homestead era heritage. In 2012, he provided a moving foreword to Charlotte Caldwell’s book, Visions and Voices: Montana’s One-Room Schoolhouses in which he related the traditions and importance of these much-loved buildings. That fall he also gave a wonderful interview that was part of a half-hour piece for MPA by Clay Scott on Montana Public Radio entitled A Fair Chance: Stories of Montana’s Homesteaders.  That interview was archived on Mountain West Voices Radio where it is still possible to tune in and listen to Ivan’s reflections on the heritage of homesteading communities in our state. We are so grateful to have had the chance to know Ivan over the years and we will continue to cherish and reference his many great novels in our work.