Two . . .  No . . . Three New Grants To Document MT Heritage & Culture!

The Montana Preservation Alliance (MPA) is pleased to announce three new grants to continue efforts to document and preserve Montana’s heritage and culture. “It is so exciting to have these three completely different grants that are all aimed at documenting, preserving, and promoting the value of Montana’s cherished heritage and historic places,” said Chere Jiusto, MPA Executive Director. “Whether it’s the history of Butte immigrants, a country schoolhouse, or an historic painting of a Montana landscape, MPA aims to protect and promote these most tangible stories and places that reflect the diverse history of Montana.”

Reimagine Montana, NEA Art Works Grant

MPA is overjoyed to announce a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works award of $20,000 to begin the Reimagine Montana project. Many historical places in Montana were first recorded through the eyes of renowned artists such as Karl Bodmer, Thomas Moran, Gustav Sohon, Charlie Russell, and Native American traditionalists whose work survives in hide paintings, ledger drawings, and rock art. With a jury of accomplished artists and historians, MPA will select artists to create new works of art inspired by these same places. The resulting work will be exhibited at venues within and near to National Parks and historic landmarks throughout Montana.

MPA Executive Director, Chere Jiusto knows the project is unlike many others MPA has undertaken, but is thrilled to be enlisting artists in the preservation movement. “The Reimagine Montana initiative reaches across disciplines to build a bridge between arts, culture and landscape. Through the creation of new art that reimagines historic places, we will provide a new avenue for audiences to engage with these places, and celebrate the beauty of nationally-significant historic properties with the public.” Read the full press release about Reimagine Montana here.

         Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church, Butte

Butte Ethnic Atlas, National Park Service Grant

In November, MPA and the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives was awarded $56,000 from the National Park Service to enhance documentation of Butte’s ethnic resources. Funds will support the Butte, Montana Ethnic Atlas and National Register project to inventory and map the ethnic heritage of the Butte-Anaconda National Historic Landmark. These efforts will document and draw attention to the historical significance of enclaves of African-American, Chinese, and Lebanese peoples and develop two new National Register nominations. “This work builds on years of work to document the significance of several ethnicities in and around Butte,” says Ellen Crain, Director of the BSB Archives. “We are elated to be able to complete our research and documentation, and with help from MPA, gain official recognition of these important ethnic groups with two new National Register designations.”

Vimy Ridge Schoolhouse, Chouteau County

Big Sky Schoolhouse Survey, Montana Land Title Association Foundation

And, last but not least, MPA also received a grant of $10,000 from  the Montana Land Title Association Foundation to continue work on the Big Sky Schoolhouse Survey – a project to document, research, and encourage preservation of one of Montana’s one-room schoolhouses. MPA began work in 2014 to document rural schoolhouses in all 56 counties. So far, schools in six counties have been photographed, measured, researched, and entered into a schoolhouse database. “The results so far are eye opening,” according to project coordinator, Christine Brown. “We’re finding that on average, about 80% of the schools that existed 100 years ago are gone, some without a trace.” While Montana still lays claim to having the most operating one-room schools in the nation (about 60 at last count), thousands have disappeared from the landscape. “We’re trying to record these buildings before it’s too late, and reach out to owners and help them preserve these icons of Montana’s early education history,” says Brown. Click here for more information about the Big Sky Schoolhouse Survey.

For more information or photos, please contact Chere Jiusto at 406-457-2822.