Montana State Capitol Building

The gentle rise overlooking the Helena Valley enhances the stately character of the "People’s House." It is Montana’s grandest public space and a stunning example of high style public architecture. Iowa architects Charles Bell and John Kent designed the center portion in the Neoclassical style to reflect the “American Renaissance” of the late nineteenth century. The state had few financial resources, so mining magnate Thomas Cruse bought all the bonds that financed its construction. Completed in 1902, the Capitol embodies the optimism, financial reality, and political climate of the time. The soaring Rotunda, beneath the copper-clad dome and figure “Montana,” sculpted by Pennsylvania artist Edward VanLandeghem, serves as the real and symbolic axis of government. Montana architects John Link and Charles Haire designed the wings, added in 1909. Classical elements carry through the interior, but the artistic expression speaks distinctly to Montana. A kaleidoscope of details and stained and art glass set the stage for a theatrical “history pageant.” Exquisite paintings by Montana artists Charles Russell, Ralph DeCamp, and Edgar S. Paxson visually dramatize Montana’s colorful past.

Images

Montana State Capitol Building

Montana State Capitol Building

Montana State Capitol with the east and west wings added. Catalog #952-710 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: L.H. Jorud; photographer View File Details Page

Capital victory, 1894

Capital victory, 1894

Thomas Cruse residence, corner of Benton Ave. and Lawrence Street, after victory of Helena for Capitol vs. Anaconda, November 1894. The following individuals are present W. A. Clark, Butte; Thomas Cruse, Helena; William Quinn, Butte; Dr. Thompson; M. M. Holter; Mrs. Cruse; Laura King et al. Catalog #951-978 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: Addy Murphy; Photographer View File Details Page

Cornerstone laying

Cornerstone laying

Laying of the cornerstone, Montana state capitol building, Helena, Montana. Man in silk hat (left) identified as Charles W. Pomerory, Grand Master, Montana Masonic lodges. Catalog #957-626 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: J.P. Ball & Son; Helena; Mont. View File Details Page

Construction of the dome

Construction of the dome

Montana State Capitol Building Under Construction. Catalog #952-636 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: Photographer Unidentified View File Details Page

Dedication of the capitol

Dedication of the capitol

Capitol building, Helena, Montana. Catalog #952-643 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: Photographer Unidentified View File Details Page

Unveiling of statue, Capitol building

Unveiling of statue, Capitol building

Unveiling of Thomas Francis Meagher Statue in front of State Capitol. Catalog #952-680 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: Photographer Unidentified View File Details Page

Capitol construction

Capitol construction

Construction of west Wing, Montana State Capitol, Helena, Montana. Catalog #952-672 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: Edward M. Reinig photographer View File Details Page

Capitol building, Helena

Capitol building, Helena

North elevation of the capitol Catalog #952-697 | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: Edward M. Reinig, photographer View File Details Page

Meagher Statue looking north

Meagher Statue looking north

Meagher Statue looking north from north entrance of Capitol. | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT | Creator: Unidentified photographer View File Details Page

PAc 2013-50 Helena-Capitol-south side

PAc 2013-50 Helena-Capitol-south side

South side of Capitol. [date unknown] | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena MT | Creator: Photographer unidentified View File Details Page

Audio

Building the Montana State Capitol

Audio recording about the construction challenges of the Montana State Capitol. Prepared and recorded by Montana Historical Society staff member Ellen Baumler. Presented on the Soundcloud channel "Montana History on the Go" 2015. | Source: Montana History on the Go | Creator: Ellen Baumler View File Details Page

Access Information:

Publicly accessible. See also, The People's House virtual tour of the Capitol or Visit the Montana Capitol

Street Address:

1301 E 6th Ave, Helena, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Montana State Capitol Building,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed July 23, 2017, http://explorebig.org/items/show/2182.

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