As Hellgate trading post grew into Missoula after 1860, farms sprouted north of the city center. The 1883 arrival of the Northern Pacific railroad brought residential construction to the Northside. The new neighborhood housed mainly railroad workers, many of them immigrants who came via the Midwest. Among them were Swedish-born John and Johana Swanson, who farmed in Wisconsin before buying this lot in 1897. They built this wood-frame, gable-front-and-wing house (with kitchen under separate roof in case of fire) that reflected the vernacular National Folk style. This style proliferated in the late nineteenth-century with the advent of balloon framing and the spread of railroads (which made lumber affordable). It proved popular on the Northside: larger versions often occupied corner lots. John and Johana also built a small alley house, presumably a rental, a common neighborhood feature. A railroad family, the Swansons raised seven children on John’s railway wages, two of whom also worked for the railroad. In 1918, eldest daughter Emma Strothman moved home from Spokane after her husband, also a railroader, died. Emma, a rural mail carrier, lived here until her death in 1969.