East Side Neighborhood Historic District

East Side Neighborhood Historic District

Optimistic about Great Falls’ future, town founder Paris Gibson authorized the plat of the Third Addition—the area that contains the East Side Neighborhood—in 1890. The Crash of 1893 slowed development, and a lone vernacular style home stood, surrounded by prairie, until 1911. That changed as the Electric City’s population more than doubled between 1910 and 1915. Families came to work in metal processing and refining, at electric dams and flour mills, with the railroads, and for the many businesses serving the region’s homesteaders. Soon white-collar workers filled First Avenue North with cozy Craftsman style “pattern book” houses, built from standardized construction plans published by national companies. Characterized by their deep eaves, front-facing gables, low-pitched roofs, wooden details, and large front porches, these homes offered comfortable family living at affordable prices. Because housing was in such demand, many also included basement apartments. World War I temporarily stalled construction, but in the 1920s two local contractors—both of whom also lived in the neighborhood—helped spur a second building boom. After 1925, brick-clad homes with Prairie style elements complemented their wood-sided Craftsman style neighbors. Neighborhood residents appreciated the proximity of Central High School (later the junior high and now Paris Gibson Square) as well as their easy access to the trolley, which ran down Central Avenue until 1931. They continue to benefit from the foresighted “City Beautiful” advocates, who lined the streets with large deciduous trees. East Side Neighborhood homes continue to possess a remarkable degree of architectural integrity, and the neighborhood remains a testament to an earlier era.

Map

Central Avenue and First Avenue North, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth Streets, Great Falls, Montana ~ public