Fort Connah

Members of the Fort Connah Restoration Society stand in front of the oldest building in Montana and the last intact Hudson's Bay Trading Post building in its original location in the United States.


Fort Connah near St. Ignatius is getting its roof fixed. The Ravalli County Museum in Hamilton is developing a Glacial Lake Missoula exhibit. Seeley Lake is reconstructing the historic Maloney cabin on museum grounds. Paradise is restoring the bell tower of its historic elementary school.

Some 33 preservation projects around Montana have received up to $5,000 each from the record $134,451 divvied up in the Montana History Foundation’s 2019 round of grants. Since 2012, the Helena-based foundation has awarded annual grants to projects and organizations that work to preserve and protect Montana’s historic legacy.

“Awarding grants is the most important thing we do every year,” MHF president/CEO Charlene Porsid said in a news release Friday. “The future of these history projects relies on grant funding, and we are delighted to impact the future of Montana’s history by offering support.”

Here’s a look at the seven projects in western Montana and the funding they’ve received:

• Fort Connah, Fort Connah Restoration Society ($5,000): Completed in 1847 by fur trader Angus McDonald, Fort Connah is believed to be the oldest building in Montana and the last intact Hudson’s Bay Trading Post building in its original location in the U.S. Funds from MHF will partially cover contractor expenses to re-roof it, removing failing shingles; repair sheathing, eaves and fascia, and replace wood cedar shingles and a ridgecap.

• Swamp Creek Community Hall, The Heritage Museum of Libby ($1,200): Grant funding will enable the hall to be used for community events throughout the year. The Heritage Museum will install cut pine boards to completely enclose the building and keep out rodents and birds.

• Missoula Cemetery, City of Missoula ($2,531): An informational sign of the cemetery, a directional sign, and interpretive signs will be installed in the cemetery in northwest Missoula.

• Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana, Charlo ($2,800): The museum on U.S. Highway 93 will purchase long-term storage supplies, including shelving, for the basement in accordance with a recently completed preservation assessment.

• Paradise Elementary School, Paradise ($5,000): An iconic part of the historic Paradise Elementary School, the bell tower will receive some much-needed restoration efforts from the Paradise Elementary School Preservation Committee. Debris and old insulation will be disposed of, new insulation and plywood flooring will be installed, and replicas of the existing wood and glass panels will be created and placed in the bell tower.

• Ravalli County Museum and Historical Society, Hamilton ($5,000): The museum will develop an outdoor Ice Age Floods Exhibit to interpret Glacial Lake Missoula and the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, which runs through the Bitterroot Valley. This exhibit will include four interpretive panels and an interactive exhibit.

• Seeley Lake Historical Society, Seeley Lake ($5,000): In 2018, the Nordic-style Maloney Cabin was rescued from destruction; the grant from MHF will enable the salvaged logs, doors, and windows to be reconstructed on the Seeley Lake Museum and Visitor Center’s grounds south of town.

Other projects around the state include digitation projects of the Photographs of Yellowstone National Park collection in West Yellowstone, the Madisonian newspaper in Virginia City, and the Yellowstone Valley Star newspaper in Sidney.

For more information and a full list of grantees, visit mthistory.org/grants.

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