Federal Building (City-County Administration Building)

Helena Historic District

Emphasizing balance, symmetry, and restraint, the Renaissance Revival style organizes large buildings into horizontal layers, with each floor becoming increasingly more refined. Designed by James Knox Taylor, the Federal Building achieves this effect through the use of rusticated ashlar on the first floor. An extended belt course separates the upper floors, which are faced with smooth coursed sandstone. Ornate moldings and Corinthian capitals accent the recessed arched windows. Reinforcing the aura of refinement, a diamond-shaped, red, stone tile frieze rests below the wide, overhanging eave, decorated with heavy timber modillions. The 1904 building’s traditional exterior masks a steel frame, the construction technique behind the modern skyscraper. On its opening, the building housed the federal court, U.S. Marshals Service, and post office. Two prominent, but unadorned side wings and a rear addition built in 1931 reflect the expanding role of the federal government. In 1978 the City of Helena and Lewis and Clark jointly acquired the building, which remains an important center of government.

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316 North Park Avenue, Helena, Montana ~ Public