Fort Missoula Commons – SAVE THE OLD POST HOSPITAL!
What will Fort Missoula look like a generation from now?
Fort Missoula has long played an indispensable role in our city’s history. It has served the community well for over a century. Yet, while many parts of the old Fort property have been revitalized in recent years, like the sports fields at the Regional Park, many buildings are dilapidated and portions of the Fort are less than inviting.
The Old Post Hospital is a gem of the Fort, but has needed significant maintenance for decades. We have a plan to re-connect our community to this remarkable treasure and create an opportunity for future generations to live, work, and create here.
Why Fort Missoula?
Built in 1911, this notable 16,000 square foot Mission Style building served as a hospital until it was decommissioned in 1947. Doctors in this building saw patients through the Spanish Flu, the Polio Epidemic, and the internment of Japanese, Germans, and Italians during WWII.
So much history took place between those walls, but decades of delayed maintenance and neglect threaten the future of this striking building. We have welcomed hundreds of Missoulians inside the doors of the Old Post Hospital during our Open Houses, but if you have not had the opportunity to join us, please view this 3-D Tour of the current state of the building. It demonstrates the WHY behind this proposal.
Our goal is protect and preserve the historic and cultural value of the Post Hospital and its grounds.
What Does This Plan Look Like?
Our plan is simple: a limited commercial and residential development, coupled with the beautification and expansion of open space accessible to the public, helping to showcase a restored Old Post Hospital.
Read Project Developer Max Wolf’s recent OpEd in The Missoulian to learn more about the motivation to Save the Old Post Hospital and why this plan is the right path forward.
You can also read the full Historic Preservation Permit application that we have submitted to the City of Missoula here (note: it is over 600 pages long, and may take a moment to load)
Restoring the Historic Old Post Hospital
The hospital saw patients of the 1918 Spanish influenza and childhood polio, and during World War II was used as the main hospital for the Alien Detention Camp.
We are historic preservationists at heart, and we have been saddened to see the condition of the Old Post Hospital deteriorate over decades. Without significant investment to breathe new life into this gem, it may become unsalvageable.
This building deserves to be saved, and its story told to a new generation of Missoulians.
Click here to read a recent Missoula Current story that details the challenges facing the Old Post Hospital. And another opinion piece that offers expert commentary from a local resident involved in historic preservation regarding the need to act on this proposal.
Embracing Open Space
“Open space” has been synonymous with Fort Missoula since its inception. The original concept when the Fort was first built in 1877 emphasized the ability to view all those approaching the fort from eye level, rather than building a fortress-type set of structures.
Our concept of Open Space Rehabilitation and Growth will be attractive to the community we call home, and will continue to provide sightline views of the Old Post Hospital from all directions.
A Place for Missoulians to Explore
Fort Missoula is important to our history as a city. Between the restoration of the Old Post Hospital, the addition of new open space, and the amenities that a limited commercial and residential development will bring, Missoulians and visitors alike will have an opportunity to rediscover what makes this place so special.
While our parcel is a small area of the overall Fort Missoula property, it will demonstrate the potential for revitalizing nearby spaces.
How YOU Can Help Save The Old Post Hospital
Missoulians have been expressing interest in our efforts to save the Old Post Hospital from further deterioration and eventual destruction. They value the Old Post Hospital and the Fort property. They also recognize that any effort to rehabilitate the building will be prohibitively expensive. This development will be a privately funded project on private land that we want to create as a community space for the public. We do not want to use very limited historic preservation grant funding – of which this project would require a lot – when smaller projects and communities absolutely need the money. We can restore the Old Post Hospital, revitalize this parcel of the Fort, and attract more people to visit this area.
Regrettably, on May 3, 2023, the Missoula Historic Preservation Commission voted to DENY our application for a Historic Preservation Permit. The project team has decided to appeal this decision to the Missoula City Council, and this appeal will be heard early in 2024. Please stay tuned for additional details in the coming months.
If you are inclined to offer your support of this project, there are a couple of ways you can help:
1) Send an email to the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org expressing your support for this project, and urging them to approve the appeal!
2) Send a message to the city on the Engage Missoula platform at Engage Missoula
3) Send a letter to the Missoulian (limit is 200 words) at https://missoulian.com/forms/contact/letter_to_the_editor/ or e-mail it to email@example.com.
4) Be skeptical of the misinformation groups like the Historic Fort Missoula Coalition and Save the Fort are spreading. If you have any questions, or want to check the validity of any information you hear, please reach out to us at FortMissoulaCommons@gmail.com.
Our Pledge to Missoula
We aim to maintain the goals of the 1993 Fort Missoula Plan, which include:
“To protect, preserve and enhance the historical and cultural value inherent to the Fort area,”
“To maintain, parkland, views and vistas, urban forest, trails and trail corridors,”
“To ensure that any new development and use responds to significant community needs, and it respects the distinctiveness and harmonizes with the character of the Fort area.”
“To coordinate planning and development of buildings and site layouts, so as to maximize joint use, minimize expense, and create a functionally integrated system.”
We strongly believe that, as a completely private-sector funded development on private land, this project will play a positive role in preserving the Historic Core as an attractive open space with amenities available to the public that will entice all Missoulians to discover, explore, and experience firsthand the beauty of the Fort.
We’ve engaged with 17 different stakeholder groups in the Fort Missoula Area to present, and refine, this plan. These encompass municipal/plan reviewers, direct neighbors, and community groups. These meetings helped us better understand the community’s relationship to, and experience with, the fort, and their hopes, concerns, and visions for the future of Fort Missoula.
We will continue to engage with the community at every step of the way. And our ask of you is to be honest with us. We look forward to earning your trust and support.
Feedback? Questions? Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.