Montana Legislature House Appropriations Committee, Montana Legislature Senate Finance and Claims Committee, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, and the Montana Preservation Alliance

Helena, Montana

Award Type: Honor Award

When Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year, the Montana Preservation Alliance and Montana legislators saw a golden opportunity for the Treasure State.  The effort began when the Montana Preservation Alliance distributed a lengthy list of “hammer-ready” projects across the state. The Montana Legislature’s Appropriations Committee leaders recognized that funding these projects had great potential for creating jobs and revitalizing communities – and they took decisive bipartisan action. After a marathon round of meetings and amendments, visionary lawmakers set aside $4 million in stimulus funds to establish Montana’s first-ever competitive Historic Preservation Grants program for preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties.

For the first time, local, state and tribal governments, non-profits and private owners across Montana could apply for up to $250,000 in state funds to repair, stabilize and rehabilitate historic properties.  As expected, local response has been enthusiastic, with more than $20 million in grant applications pouring in from cities, towns and rural areas in every corner of the state. 

To date, substantial funding has been awarded to three of Montana’s most significant properties:  the Daly Mansion near Hamilton; St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville; and Traveler’s Rest at Lolo.  Many additional rehabilitation projects are in the works.
“Good stewardship of the past can help create jobs, revitalize communities and boost tourism,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “Montana—the only state in the nation to set aside stimulus funds for historic preservation projects—is setting an example for lawmakers across the country.”