Fort Missoula Historic District (addendum and boundary increase)

Fort Missoula, established in 1877 to provide military control over western Montana’s Indian tribes and protect local settlers, was the only permanent military post west of the Continental Divide. There was little conflict, but the fort’s non-combative service was long and diverse. From 1888 to 1898, the black 25th Infantry Regiment was stationed at the fort. Twenty of the men explored potential military applications of the bicycle, riding 1,900 miles from Missoula to St. Louis in forty days. During the Spanish-American conflict in 1898, volunteers known as Grigsby’s Cowboys were garrisoned at the fort. Citizens protesting its closure in 1904 prompted U.S. Senator Joseph Dixon of Missoula to successfully lobby for the fort’s reconstruction. Eighteen Mission style buildings from this period (1904 to 1912) form the core of the present complex. The fort served as a technical training center during World War I, and between 1933 and 1941, it became the nation’s largest regional headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps. During World War II, it was the nation’s largest civilian detention camp interning Japanese Americans, Italian nationals taken from merchant and luxury ships in New York’s harbor, and World’s Fair employees. Italian internees affectionately dubbed the fort “Bella Vista.” After World War II, the fort served as a medium security army prison. Closed in 1948, the fort had a military service that long outlasted other early Montana forts. The army began to sell and lease portions of the property, but adaptability and strong community involvement has assured the buildings at Fort Missoula an active future. Most of the district’s buildings are now administered by the Northern Rockies Heritage Center.

Commanding Officer's Quarters

Reconstruction of Fort Missoula between 1904 and 1912 transformed the old log and frame complex into a more modern, more attractive facility. The Mission style, at the height of popularity during this period, was well suited to this purpose. The…

Company Officers' Quarters

The reconstruction of Fort Missoula after 1904 equipped the facility to serve as a regimental headquarters. The new cast concrete buildings in the Mission style were built along a curved boulevard a few hundred feet northeast of the original parade…

Parade Grounds

The original Fort Missoula was constructed of log and frame and was neither fortified nor enclosed. The buildings, arranged around the first parade grounds, no longer stand, but their foundations are clearly visible, bordering the area where early…

Post Cemetery

Established on less than an acre of ground north of the main buildings, Fort Missoula’s post cemetery is still in active use. The first person buried here was Private William Gerick in 1878. Subsequently, soldiers who served in the Civil War, Indian…

Post Headquarters (Exchange)

Originally the post exchange, this building served as a recreation hall for the stationed men. The exchange evolved from the post trader’s store, an integral element in early forts where the men could buy staples and supplies. As early as 1888, the…

Powder Magazine

Built in 1878 at a cost of $485, this one-story stone building is one of only two structures that date to the original fort. The 3rd Infantry Regiment arrived at Fort Missoula from Texas in November of 1877 to replace the 7th Infantry troops,…

T-1 Post Headquarters

The old post chapel once occupied this site where, in 1940, officials located the fort’s administrative center. Built for $15,300, the tall stucco-covered frame building housed the commanding officer and his staff. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor…