Fort Missoula’s chapel was completed in 1885 with a rectory and classrooms built on the north end. During the late 1930’s the Works Progress Administration allocated $15,300 to renovate the deteriorating chapel into a new post headquarters building. A concrete foundation was poured adjacent to the chapel and the building was jacked up during the summer of 1938 and moved over the foundation. The high-ceilinged chapel was converted into a two-story administration building, and new windows were added. A courtroom was built to handle disciplinary cases, a heating plant was installed in the basement, and electricity and phone lines were installed. The courtroom in Fort Missoula’s Headquarters Building was used by the US Department of Justice to conduct Alien Hearings Boards for Japanese and Italian citizens, and later for Army disciplinary hearings. It was leased to the Air Force between 1962 and 1965 and then to the US.Forest Service’s Equipment and Development center. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula purchased the building from the Forest Service in 2009 and has since restored the historic courtroom, which was revealed during renovations. Dr. Robert M. Brown of the Historical Museum said “We didn’t know the courtroom was there. We didn’t know it was the church. We just loved the basement.”
Fort Missoula’s Building T-46 was built by the Halloway and George Construction Company in 1940 and cost $59,838. It was designed in a Mission-style similar to buildings constructed 25 years before. The first floor held a fire station and guard offices, while there were cell blocks on the second floor. After World War II it continued to be used as a fire station until 1962, when it was converted into Fort Missoula’s Post Exchange (PX). In 1971 the U.S. Forest Service began using part of the building as office space for an archaeologist and fire dispatchers, while the Army Reserve used the garage as a repair shop. Today it is home to the Forest Service’s Fire and Aviation Management division.
I’ll be posting more material on Fort Missoula in the coming weeks, but I thought people might be interested in a 1911 Christmas menu from Company “I” of the 14th Infantry. A battalion (four companies and 240 men) of the 14th Infantry were stationed at the Fort from March, 1910 until February 25, 1913. The same battalion returned to the Fort in October 1914, and stayed until the following April. While life at a frontier military post may have been spartan at times, every effort was made to make Christmas dinner at Fort Missoula a special occasion. While Army rations were often Spartan, local farmers and ranchers, plus the fishermen and hunters on the post were able to provide a variety of fresh food and local fish and game.
“That Beautiful Little Post: The Story of Fort Missoula” will be in bookstores Spring of 2013. You can find more information here.