2014 Preservation Awards

City of Great Falls Montana






Date:  May 2, 2014                   

Contact:  Ellen Sievert, Historic Preservation Officer – 406-761-6955





Great Falls, Montana – The Great Falls-Cascade County Historic Preservation Advisory Commission (HPAC) has selected a trio of projects to be honored at the 2014 Preservation Award reception, Thursday May 22nd from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., in the Missouri Room of the Civic Center.  The following award recipients will be honored:

The Monarch-Neihart Historical Group, Inc. is being honored for their organizational efforts to save and interpret the history of the Belt Creek valley along with heroic efforts to rescue the historic Great Northern railroad depot from destruction. 

When the Monarch-Neihart community realized their local historic railroad depot was destined for demolition by the Montana Department of Transportation, community members quickly organized to seek solutions to preserve the structure.  They worked with attorney, Bill Bronson to quickly form a 501 (c) (3) organization and acquire ownership of the depot and underlying land.

 In the course of establishing the organizational framework, the community identified the need to preserve and promote the rich culture of the valley; including its transportation and railroad history that brought settlers, miners, loggers and recreation seekers to the region.  Their research, preservation and promotion efforts include structures, sites, documents, historical literature, as well as oral histories, pertinent to the region.   With quick action and commitment to a cause, the members of the Monarch-Neihart Historical Group, Inc. have preserved a piece of Cascade County history for future generations.

In a very short time, this committed group of volunteers has accomplished a great deal, and in her nomination County Commissioner, Jane Weber said; “The speed with which they have undertaken this effort is nothing short of remarkable; and their accomplishments truly warrant recognition.”

 Author/journalist, Carol Bradley has had a “love affair” with Craftsman styled houses for many years.  She wrote magazine and newspaper articles about bungalows and Arts & Crafts era houses well before she joined the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission (HPAC).

The HPAC has carried a goal of surveying the residential district just east of the Central Business Historic District for several years but funding a large architectural & historical survey proved problematic.  In 2013 a “Craftsman Committee” was formed with former HPAC member, Carol Bradley at the helm.  Bradley successfully completed two grant applications for the project which resulted in $6,000 in grants, one from the Montana History Foundation and one from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The HPAC provided some cash match for the grants, but the bulk of the match was in the form of in-kind professional services by the committee members.  The funding enabled the HPAC to hire a consultant to work with the committee to document the resources and ultimately draft a National Register nomination for the district and create background information for a larger future district.

The committee has completed title searches, photography, drafted physical descriptions, combed city directories and newspapers for the project.  Stewart Title assisted the project greatly by allowing researchers use of title books to produce a chain of title for each residence.  Jerry and Carole Ann Clark spent over ninety hours in the past year on title searches and other research.  Architects, Ken Sievert and Ryan Smith drafted physical descriptions of the individual residences and district maps; Kristi Scott photographed residences and Sandra French, archaeologist and newly elected Chair of the HPAC, organized site forms.

Historic Preservation Officer, Ellen Sievert, and consultant, Mark Hufstetler have completed Architectural and Historical Resource Surveys in many communities in Montana and recognized that the Craftsman committee has completed unprecedented work in the state.  They nominated the Craftsman Committee for a 2014 Historic Preservation Award because of the “amazing bank of research completed by professional volunteers, making possible the study of this significant area and era of Great Falls.”

The Celtic Cowboy Pub and Restaurant was the only rehabilitation project to be nominated for a 2014 Historic Preservation Award and the nominations came from an interesting range of interests – from a contractor, historian and a tax attorney.  The project was the inspiration for the “Building on the Past” theme for Preservation Month, as it has brought to life the story of Robert Vaughn, “one of the most public-spirited citizens of Great Falls, Mont.”

Vaughn built the Arvon Block in 1890 and named it for his daughter, Arvonia.  It originally housed a stable and a 40 room hotel and has seen many uses in its 124 year history.  The Arvon was one of five buildings that were subjects of feasibility studies completed through the Technical Assistance program organized by the Preservation Office.

Although teetering on the brink of collapse and facing condemnation, the building displayed great original integrity and the Arvon Block Development Venture, LLC was organized to execute its rehabilitation.  Adding to the complexity of the development, the Erin Go Braugh, LLC was split off to complete rehabilitation of just the Celtic Cowboy portion of the project.

The rehabilitation and restoration work on this project performed by Dick Anderson Construction deserves special recognition.  Their extensive efforts to restore and repair existing materials in order to meet national Standards for Rehabilitation are remarkable.

Architect Randy Hafer, High Plains Architects, has extensive experience in restoration of historic buildings utilizing Historic rehabilitation Investment Tax Credits and assisted in organizing the Arvon Block Development Venture, LLC, which plans to complete rehabilitation of the building with the creation of a boutique hotel. The Commission particularly values this project because it supports the community vision for downtown revitalization in Great Falls.

The Preservation Award reception is held annually as part of National Historic Preservation Month activities.  The theme for the 2014 Preservation Awards Reception is "Building on the Past.”  The reception is free and open to the public.  For more information contact Ellen Sievert, Historic Preservation Officer at 761-6955.