Cogswell Building

Montana State Capitol Campus Historic District

Following World War II, Montana’s growing state agencies desperately needed all types of space. Consequently, in 1946 the Montana State Postwar Planning and Construction Commission recommended building a laboratory where all testing for state government programs could take place. To meet the need, Helena architect Vincent H. Walsh designed a W-shaped, three-story structure. However, lack of funding delayed construction and altered Walsh’s original design, ultimately eliminating the middle wing and third story. When the new State Laboratory finally opened in 1955, it housed the Highway Department’s Testing Division and the Board of Health’s Divisions of Bacteriology, Health Education, Public Health Nursing, and Disease Control. Almost immediately the State Laboratories Commission—created in 1945 to assess state agencies’ “present and future laboratory” needs—declared the space insufficient. Their concerns were not addressed until 1981, after the Great Falls firm of Davidson & Kuhr designed the modern addition that sits between the original two wings. In 1964, the state dedicated the building to Dr. William F. Cogswell, who served from 1912 to 1946 as the Executive Secretary of the State Board of Health.

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1401 East Lockey Avenue, Helena, Montana ~ Public