Social and Rehabilitation Services Department

Montana State Capitol Campus Historic District

After the federal government began to provide money to address widespread poverty during the Great Depression, Montana established the Department of Public Welfare, which supervised all forms of public assistance. In 1937, that department set up offices in a former synagogue, donated to the state by Helena’s shrinking Jewish community. State reorganization in 1971 combined 161 agencies into 19 departments, including the Social & Rehabilitation Services (SRS) Department, which subsumed the Department of Public Welfare. The former synagogue was bursting at the seams and most of SRS’s Helena-based employees worked from rented offices. Realizing the state would ultimately save money by constructing its own buildings, the 1973 legislature authorized funding for the SRS building. Completed in 1976, the building’s “clean lines and white-chipped-rock façade” promised to add “a classic piece of beauty to the Capitol Complex.” In 1995, SRS merged with Health and Environmental Sciences to form the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Its headquarters remains in this New Formalist–inspired building, designed by the Butte architectural firm Knight & Company.

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111 North Sanders Street, Helena, Montana ~ Public