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Montana Western’s Main Hall renovation wins “Best Historic Preservation” award

December 28, 2016

Building contractors for University of Montana Western's historic Main Hall renovation were recently awarded "Best Historic Preservation" by the Montana Contractors Association (MCA).


Building contractors for the University of Montana Western’s historic Main Hall renovation were recently awarded “Best Historic Preservation” by the Montana Contractors Association (MCA).

Jackson Contractor Group will accept the award at the 2017 Annual MCA convention on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 in Helena, Mont. 

The multi-phase renovation project occurred over a 10-year period, resulting in a dramatic facelift and structural and technological upgrades for the 120-year old building, Vice Chancellor Susan Briggs explained. “I’m excited that Jackson is being honored by the MCA for the incredible work they did on Main Hall during phase III of the renovation,” Briggs said. “They were able to preserve the historic integrity of the building while upgrading it to be used to educate students for generations to come.”      

After the earthquake of 2005, seismic upgrades were done throughout the original 1896 building and the 1907 building. The additional renovations took place in three phases, with Swank Enterprises of Kalispell, Mont. working on phase I and II.

  • Phase I of the renovation included a remodel of the 1896 building and portions of the 1907 building. The upgrades involved a new heating system, new electrical, data upgrades, asbestos abatement, a fire alarm upgrade and other improvements. 
  • Phase II saw the remodel of the remainder of the 1907 building. The 1954 auditorium (now the Beier Auditorium) also underwent a complete remodel, which included significant structural upgrades. A new lobby connecting Main Hall to the entrance of the auditorium was also completed. 
  • Phase III brought a remodel of the 1924 library building, which included a restoration of the library reading room. This phase included restoring the plaster and medallions throughout the library building. New classrooms were added to the first and third floors and new art galleries were installed on the first floor. The library building now serves as a state-of-the-art learning lab for education students, recently dedicated as the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Model Classroom for Education.

The renovated Model Classroom regularly plays host to Montana Western’s Rural Fridays program, where elementary students from Beaverhead County’s one-room schoolhouses come to the university to be taught by student-teachers. A mezzanine viewing area was built above the classroom to provide a space for instructors to observe student-teachers interacting with elementary students.

Listed on the National Historic Register, Main Hall also serves as home to the university’s art gallery and museum, drama facilities and art studios in addition to numerous classrooms, offices and public meeting rooms.

KBZK News of Bozeman recently aired an in-depth two-part story on the renovation. View the story here: Main Hall renovation.

— Montana Western —