Filed Under Missoula

Patterson Building

University Area Historic District

South Higgins Avenue saw rapid commercial growth as a business hub during the period 1915-1925. This Western Commercial style building illustrates the district’s early evolution. Missoula attorney John E. Patterson was serving as judge of the Fourth Judicial District when he developed the property circa 1915. Prominent Missoulian H. O. Bell was the first tenant, operating his early Ford automobile dealership here. Between 1915 and 1929, Bell sold 4,500 new Fords, 2,700 used cars, and many Fordson tractors from his showroom. Bell was also an aeronautical pioneer, remembered in the naming of the Missoula International Airport/Johnson-Bell Field. The Quality Market was another early tenant; its 1930s “ghost sign” remains on the façade. The Patterson family continued to own the building until 2013. Sensitive rehabilitation of this stunning slice of early Missoula exposed decorative polychromatic brick panels, a stepped parapet, pressed-metal interior ceilings, and restored the prismatic glass transoms. Introduced in the 1890s, prismatic glass transoms were a popular and practical means of directing daylight into building interiors. Their distinctive purple hue is the result of decades of exposure to sunlight.

Images

Patterson Building Patterson Building. Front view of the building, facing east on South Higgins Avenue. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
Patterson Building Patterson Building. Front to side view of the building, facing east to southeast on South Higgins Avenue near the corner of South Higgins and South 4th Street West. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020

Location

610/612/614 South Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Patterson Building,” Historic Montana, accessed December 3, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/2187.