The Missoula Art Museum is restoring the grand entry of the 1903 Carnegie Library Building, preserving the historic building’s architectural facade.
Missoula’s distinctive architect and builder, A.J. Gibson built the library in 1903 with funds from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. The design is exemplary of the Carnegie Classical subgroup of Classical Revival style of architecture. The building was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, just one year after the city established the building as a museum.
In 2006, the original stairs were altered into sitting steps. By 2017 it was determined that the entry should be restored to its original facade. The sitting steps were removed at great labor and expense and the museum began to rebuild the original nine steps. Removing the sitting steps was difficult due to being reinforced with much rebar; contractors had to “delicately” jackhammer the sitting steps out while trying not to destroy the original nine stairs. Once uncovered, builders ran into problems with the original nine steps.
The Montana History Foundation grant will help finish the restoration of the stairs and entryway. This phase of the restoration includes restoring stucco, installing a new handrail to match the original, refinishing the door, installing concrete planters, and repainting pediment, columns, stucco gable fascia and details.
Annual museum attendance averages 40,000 people, with an additional 90,000 reached through off-site programming and touring exhibitions. Establishing the museum in the historic downtown location saved the building from demolition. The museum is a public educational institution free and accessible to all.
Have you heard about our Montana Carnegie Library project? Learn more here.
*Cover photo courtesy Tom Ferris