Lewis and Clark County Court House

Lewis and Clark County MT

Montana Capitals/Lewis and Clark County Court House
Montana Historical Society
Written By Montana Historical Society

We share Montana's story through our resources: art, books, artifacts, photos, and even buildings we've helped preserve.

Capitol Building Prior to Statehood

Much Montana history unfolded within this magnificent landmark, which served as both territorial capitol (1887-1888) and state capitol (1889-1902). Here in 1889 officials received word of statehood, and three hours later J. K. Toole was sworn in as Montana’s first governor.

How the Building was Conceived

St. Paul architects Hodgson and Stem drew heavily upon the Romanesque Revival style as influenced by H. H. Richardson, creating a masterpiece that rivaled eastern counterparts. The well-laid granite walls boast exceptionally fine Bayfield brownstone trim from Wisconsin (the same brownstone of New York’s Fifth Avenue fame) and the interior appointments are also extraordinary. The building’s splendid Norman clock tower presided over Helena until 1935, when earthquakes humbled its grandeur. The tower, fourth-story gables, and a heavy stone cornice, adornments of little use during the Depression era, were not replaced.

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Design Inspiration

Take a look at the video and photos below, which give you an idea of the architectural style of H.H. Richardson who played a major role in inspiring the building architects.

Cover photo credit: montanabw via wikimedia

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