Missoula County Courthouse
Missoula Downtown Historic District
The Neoclassical style sandstone Missoula County Courthouse was designed by prominent local architect A. J. Gibson, and erected 1908-1910. Inside the copper-domed clock tower hangs a two-ton bell, and a notable interior decoration is the series of eight historical murals for the main, south entrance, commissioned from Missoulian Edgar S. Paxson for a fee of $1,000. Missoula County is one of Montana’s oldest political subdivisions, organized in 1860 as the section of Washington Territory extending from about the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains eastward to the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Subsequently, the county was in Idaho Territory (1863) and finally Montana Territory (1864). Missoula’s original county seat was at Hell’s Gate, four miles west of here, until 1865, when Higgins and Worden moved their store to the site of the current city. Their saw mill and grist mill, plus the store of Bonner and Welsh, led county commissioners to move the seat of government here in 1866. The original courthouse stood on this site, but had become too small by 1907.