Draft Horse Barn one of four Montana properties listed in national register

The Montana Historical Society’s State Historic Preservation Office is pleased to announce the Dec. 14th listing of four properties in the National Register of Historic Palaces. These include the Grant-Marshall Lime Kiln on the south edge of Helena, and the Draft Horse Barn at the Fergus County Fairgrounds. Two boats were also listed in the National Register; the DeSmet and the Little Chief; both operate within Glacier National Park.

 

Draft Horse Barn Fergus County Fairgrounds, listed in the National Register

Constructed in 1917, the Draft Horse Barn at the Fergus County Fairgrounds was constructed by the Fergus County Sales Corporation for use as a year-round auction yard and fair-time exhibition hall. The Montana State Historic Preservation Office’s John Boughton said the barn stands as only one of the few remaining early buildings standing in their original location at the fairgrounds. The barn is importantly associated with the development of the livestock industry in Central Montana and with the Fergus County Fair, one of Montana’s earliest and most significant county fairs.

Architecturally, the Draft Horse Barn is a fine example of a small-scale exhibition pavilion built with locally produced structural clay tile produced by the Lewistown Brick and Tile Company. The tile structure brought an aura of permanence and modernity to the fairgrounds. The brick’s distinctive red color, a hallmark of the Lewistown Brick and Tile Company, presented an attractive contrast to the surrounding fairgrounds. The barn stands as a wonderful, and unique, example of a “specialized barn” in Central Montana.

The barn has been completely restored by a local preservation advocacy group and was reopened for public use in 2013.

The nomination was prepared by historian Jess Nunn and submitted through the Montana State Historic Preservation Office of the Montana Historical Society.

 

Grant-Marshall Lime Kiln, listed in the National Register

The Grant-Marshall Lime Kiln stands at the south end of Helena. John Boughton, the National Register Coordinator at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office related the kiln represents a type of industry important to the early development of Helena. The listed property consists of a lime kiln, built ca. 1889, an earlier pit kiln constructed around 1884, a staging area, and a limestone quarry. The property has been abandoned since at least 1903.

Lime burning was significant to the development of Helena, from its time as a ramshackle, impermanent mining camp to a substantial modern city after the arrival of the Northern Pacific and Montana Central railroads in the 1880s. Lime produced from the Grant-Marshall Lime Kiln is known to be utilized for the construction of the Helena High School building and the construction of substantial residences in the nearby Lenox Addition to Helena, beginning in 1890; it is possible other buildings also utilized lime from the district. The lime kiln is similar in design, materials, and function to the well-known Grizzly Gulch lime kilns.

The nomination was prepared by historian Jon Axline. Much of the property is owned by the City of Helena. The nomination was submitted through the Montana State Historic Preservation Office of the Montana Historical Society.

 

DeSmet and Little Chief, listed in the National Register

The Little Chief and DeSmet have operated in the waters of Glacier National Park since their construction. National Register Coordinator at the State Historic Preservation Office John Boughton said “the addition of the DeSmet and Little Chief mark only the second and third boats to be listed in the National Register in Montana.”

The Little Chief, constructed in 1926, measures 45 ft. long by 12 ft. wide. It derived its name from a prominent mountain along the south shore of St. Mary Lake where the boat was originally launched. The Great Northern Railway commissioned and owned the Little Chief, operating it as transportation for its customers from the St. Mary Chalets up the lake to the Sun Point Chalets. The boat was rechristened Sinopah sometime during the 1940s when it was relocated to Two Medicine Lake.

The DeSmet was constructed in 1930. It measures 56 ft. long by 13 ft. wide and continues to operate on Lake McDonald on the west side of the continental divide, as it has since its construction. DeSmet took its name from Pierre-Jean DeSmet, an influential Jesuit missionary throughout western North America during the mid-nineteenth century. The vessel DeSmet was commissioned and owned by the Glacier Park Transport Company as a scenic launch from its Lewis Hotel, now known as the Lake McDonald Lodge. It has never left the park, continuing to operate for scenic cruises every summer and spending winters dry-docked in the historic Fish Creek Bay Boathouse.

Both boats remain excellent examples of carvel-planked boat constructed using traditional boat-working techniques and materials. Both were constructed by J. W. Swanson, an early influential boat builder both in and outside the park.

Today, both the DeSmet and the Little Chief are owned and operated by Glacier Park Boat Company.

The nominations were prepared by James Hackethorn of the Glacier Park Boat Company and submitted through the Montana State Historic Preservation Office of the Montana Historical Society.

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