Gallatin County Courthouse

The stock market crash of 1929 plunged the nation into an era of depression, and Bozeman, like other American communities, faced severe financial hardships and resulting challenges. By 1931, Montana’s farming, ranching, mining, and lumber industries—the state’s lifeblood—had been severely affected by the depression. The bleak outlook was partially relieved by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the effects of this program on Gallatin County were considerable. The Works Progress Administration offered work to the unemployed across the state. In Bozeman, this financial assistance made possible the construction of a new courthouse, four elementary schools, an addition to the high school, and other civic improvements. Prominent Bozeman architect Fred F. Willson, who designed many area buildings during his half-century career, designed the courthouse in 1933. This regional landmark, completed in 1936 and one of Willson’s most significant contributions, is constructed in the Art Deco style of cast concrete with limestone veneer and granite elements. A large central pavilion, a compositional emphasis on vertical bay divisions, lettering and other ornamental designs cast in the concrete walls, and ornamental bronze spandrels beautifully communicate the new national trend toward “efficiency and streamlining through structure and ornament.”

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311 West Main Street, Bozeman, Montana ~ Private