Montana Highway Department Building

Montana State Capitol Campus Historic District

Montana’s original Highway Department building reflects the ascendancy of the automobile in twentieth-century America. As drivers began lobbying for good roads, state government responded, forming the Montana Highway Commission in 1913. Five years later, responding to federal road monies, the state created the Montana Highway Department and State Highway System. The 1920s brought more cars to Montana’s thoroughfares and more work for the Highway Department. With increased federal funding during the Great Depression, the department outgrew its offices in the state capitol. Consequently, the Highway Commission hired Great Falls architect George Shanley to design a new home for the ever-expanding agency. The resulting Stripped Classical, smooth concrete structure reflects the aesthetics of New Deal–era public architecture. When completed in 1936, it was hailed as being “modern in every way.” Two decades later, the federal government established the Interstate Highway System, which led to the 1958 construction of a five-story, Modern addition designed by the Great Falls firm of Bordeleau-Pannell & Amundson. In 1978, the renamed Montana Department of Transportation moved into new headquarters allowing other state agencies to occupy this building.

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302 North Roberts Street, Helena, Montana ~ Public