Missoula Carnegie Public Library

Missoula Downtown Historic District

A women’s club founded the Missoula library, which grew out of an 1882 ladies’ reading group. By 1894, the city library had 500 volumes and had secured public tax support. Six years later, Missoula residents had access to almost 5,000 books from the library’s rented downtown rooms. In 1903, both the chair of the women’s club library committee and Missoula’s mayor contacted steel magnate and library benefactor Andrew Carnegie, requesting funds for a dedicated building. Carnegie, who funded over 1,600 libraries nationwide and 17 in Montana, pledged $12,500 toward the new building. For this “temple of learning,” Missoula architect A. J. Gibson offered a neo-classical design, coincidentally incorporating many stylistic elements later associated with Carnegie Classic design. After Missoula’s population quadrupled between 1900 and 1910, the library requested additional funding from the Carnegie Foundation. It received a second grant of $9,000 in 1911. Architect Ole Bakke designed the second-story addition, adding Craftsman style elements without obscuring the essence of Gibson’s original design. In 1974, the library moved to larger quarters, but the building continues to serve the public as the Missoula Art Museum.

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335 North Pattee Street, Missoula, Montana ~ Public