Broadway Apartments, Lewistown

MPA is making steady progress towards redevelopment of the Broadway Apartments building in Lewistown as our skilled teams from Mosaic Architecture, Prairie Wind Architecture, and CTA have finalized their planning, preservation, and economic reports. 

The reports have defined four pillars that will support this project.

·         The Broadway is structurally sound and can be feasibly renovated,

·         The cost of renovation is cost-competitive with new construction,

·         Re-use as market rate apartments is economically viable, and

·         The proposed work has significant support from the Lewistown community. 

The MPA team is now working on a marketing package that includes incentives to make the building more attractive, such as Historic Preservation Tax Credits, cleanup grants, and more.

On the ground, the back yard has been cleaned up and 30 years (and 100 cubic yards) of trash and debris were removed from the site.  We thank SAS Sprinklers and Lawn Service for their help during cleanup and generous donation of their equipment to the effort.

Central School, Helena

On February 27, the Helena City Commission granted a demolition permit to the Helena School District to tear down and replace Central School, Helena’s oldest public school. All in the preservation community were disappointed at the decision, given the many viable options presented by MPA to Trustees for complete interior rehab and exterior restoration that could have preserved its historic charm, provided a first-class educational facility, and maintained integrity in the surrounding historic district.

Shortly after the decision, Helena citizens Alan and Nancy Nicholson filed a law suit arguing that the City of Helena didn’t follow the Helena Historic Preservation Ordinance or its Growth Policy in issuing a demolition permit for the school. A group of Central School parents filed a countersuit, asking the court to dismiss the suit and let demolition proceed. On May 10, the Nicholsons also filed an injunction to halt the City of Helena from issuing the demolition permit. The injunction was denied and a hearing is set for June 21.

Threatened Properties Update

Teslow Grain Elevator, Livingston

The wind in Livingston died down just long enough for construction crews to drop a new crown on Livingston's beautiful Teslow Grain Elevator. According to Teslow Preservation Group officer, Audrey Hall, lowering the prefabricated roof onto the structure, "all went off without a hitch and we had a fair number of onlookers including a local physics class! OSM’s safety officer and weather good luck charm, Noah Davis, was on site, so the blizzard that was raging all morning calmed down enough for all systems to go. Of course, as soon as Noah left the site, the bitter and famous wind picked right back up!" 

In the coming weeks, OSM will be fixing the shoulder roofs and installing new windows. Also, a few structural repairs will be addressed on the north facing elevation. Once the major repairs are completed, the next phase of the project will probably be pigeon and poop removal, and planning for the building’s future, feasibility, and sustainability.

The Guardian of the Gulch, Helena’s Fire Tower
The City of Helena shocked many in the community on February 1 with plans to demolish and rebuild Helena’s iconic Fire Tower. The Fire Tower was damaged in an arson attempt in 2016 and further analysis found more than just the fire damaged timbers. With input from a restoration specialist and structural engineer MPA is advising the City to replace only the deteriorated timbers and to upgrade other structural connections, rather than building a new tower to match the original. Doing so will diminish its historic significance and impact the integrity of the Helena Historic District. As it stands now, the City will apply for a demolition permit from the City’s preservation commission and ask for approval by the Helena City Commission. No date has been set for a hearing. 

Missoula Mercantile
After a valiant and sustained effort by preservationists to rescue the Missoula Mercantile, a Missoula District Court Judge upheld the Missoula City Commission decision in favor of demolition. Preserve Historic Missoula and MPA gave it our best, appealing to the developer multiple times to work with the preservation community and come out with an inspiring project that would have saved the Mercantile and allowed for a new hotel. 

While a portion of the old pharmacy will be saved, the overall design will destroy Missoula’s most significant historic commercial building and have a negative impact on the integrity of the surrounding historic district. As communities across Montana grapple with conflicts between development and historic buildings, it’s clear that stronger local preservation policies are needed to pave the way for both history and a vibrant economy.