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East Pine Street Historic District

Missoula City, Missoula County, MT


Worden House, East Pine Street Historic District

Photo: Worden House, circa 1875, located at 328 East Pine Street in the East Pine Street Historic District, Missoula. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Photographed by User:Dsetay (own work), 2014, [cc-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed January, 2022.


The East Pine Street Historic District [†] area evolved in Missoula, starting with the formative period of the City (1864-3|880) when Francis L. Worden constructed the existing residence at 328 East Pine Street, north of the main center of town in 1872. (Photos 24 & 31). At the time, the residence was built considerably north of the center of Missoula, which was located along the Mullan Wagon Road (constructed 1858-1860) to provide the most direct link between the Upper Missouri and Fort Benton|and the Columbia River at Walla, Washington. Settlement in the area had actually started about 1860 when Captain C.P. Higgins, who had supervised construction of the Mullan Wagon Road between Fort Benton and Walla, teamed up with Francis L. Wordenv, a merchant in Walla, to establish a trading post at Hellgate, about four miles from the later Missoula townsite, at the intersection of the east/west trail between Fort Benton and Walla and the north/south trail between the Flathead Reservation and Jocko Agency and to points south down the Bitterroot Valley, including Fort Owen and Idaho. In 1864, the two men moved their business to the present location of Missoula to build a sawmill and gristmill, a settlement they called Missoula Mills, which lay along the route of the Mullan Road. The settlement grew gradually during the 1860's and 1870's, mainly because of the east/west and north/south traffic generated by mines peripheral to the area, especially the Cedar Creek Mines established in 1869. population of about 300 persons.

In 1871 the townsite of Missoula was platted on the north side of the Clark Fork River on an irregular grid determined by conformance with the Mullan Road (Front Street) which followed the irregular course of the Clark Fork River, and Higgins Avenue, which ran at right angles to Front Street in a generally north/south direction. the town centered along the north bank of the Clark Fork River and was largely confined to an area south of Main Street. During this time, Missoula survived as a trading community on the north/south - east}/west trade axis, providing mining communities with goods packet in through Missoula which became something of a wholesale outlet, and a center of locally grown farm produce and livestock. However, Missoula grew little between 1870 and 1880. The pace of city growth was spurred by the construction of Fort Missoula (southwest of town) in 1877 (with the Nez Perce Indian scare), by supplying the Fort with goods and services and by providing a center of entertainment. The saloons and brothels along Front Street prospered.

In 1873, C.P. Higgins and Washington J. McCormick received patents to quarter sections of land immediately north of the Missoula townsite, and, together with Frank Worden and A.J. Urlin, ensured the survival of Missoula by giving the Northern Pacific Railroad land on which to locate its station, yards and right-of-way. Frank Worden's house, constructed in 1872, between the town and the eventual site of the railroad station, yards and shops, sat alone for some time until the C.P. Higgins and the McWhirk additions were platted in 1882, a year before the railroad reached Missoula. The Frank Worden house at 328 East Pine is one of the few buildings remaining in Missoula with a clear association with the early, pre-railroad period of settlement and appears much as it did in a well know photo taken of it looking south from Waterworks Hill in 1875.

The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad greatly stimulated the growth of Missoula by providing new marketing outlets, essentially creating the lumber industry through its need for rail ties and timber for the huge Butte mining operations, and by creating a business community and city center that thrived on the new commercial opportunities provided. East Pine Street, which lay between the original town's east/west axis and the newly constructed railroad tracks to the north, began to grow steadily with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

An 1884 Bird's Eye View map of Missoula shows only a few residences located near the west end of Pine Street, just to the east of Higgins Avenue. Most of these buildings at the west end of East Pine stood one or two to a block where open blocks survived until after 1891. Most of the construction along East Pine Street shortly after the area yas platted occurred east of Jefferson Street in the 500 and 6QO blocks, and consisted of smaller, more closely grouped vernacular frame buildings near Rattlesnake Creek, many of which stand today. Records indicate that some of these homes at the extreme east end were owned by absentee landlords who rented to lower middle and working class tenants, many of whom worked for the railroad.

An examination of the 1884 Birdseye view map, an 1890 photograph, and the 1891 perspective map of Missoula show that the buildings west of Jefferson (which were larger residences with expansive grounds and trees) appeared slowly in comparison with the small residences between Jefferson and Pine Streets. In 1891, only eight residences were located on East Pine, west of Jefferson Street. Between 1891 and 1902, only four more large residences had been constructed between Jefferson and Higgins. Only by 1912 did this section reach its existing density. It was at this time that sidewalks, sewer lines, and the existing boulevard with median plantings were constructed along East Pine Street.

Of the existing buildings in the proposed historic district today, thirteen were built between 1872 and 1891, four between 1891 and 1902 (probably due to the between 1902 and 1912 (the period of Panic of 1893), thirteen Missoula's second burst of new construction concurrent with tie reconstruction of the Northern Pacific, the establishment of U.S. Forest Service and government offices on East Broadway, tie establishment and growth of the University of Montana, and the opening of the Flathead Indian Reservation to settlement, and area irrigation projects).

The transition from a basically single-family residential area (with large residences at the west end and smaller, lower middle class residences at the east end) to an area characterized more by multi-family buildings began to occur with the construction of the Steiger Apartments at 407/409 East Pine and 427/429 East Pine (Photo 48) and the Dildine Apartments at 410/412 East Broadway, all between 1902 and 1912. The trend toward masonry row houses in Missoula during this time also is eVident with construction of double (or more) bay apartments outside the district at 500-514 East Front Street, just south of East Broadway Avenue at 326-332 East Spruce Street (just north of East Pine Street) and at 400- 422 Roosevelt in the University District.

The 1910 publication by the Missoula Chamber of Commerce noted that as the residential areas of the town spread to the south, especially "nearer the center of the city, flats and apartment houses have supplanted the homes of earlier days." It continued by noting that "there are in the city some splendid type$ of the modern apartment houses, affording homes for from four to sixteen families."

Growth dropped off between 1912-1920 (although there were several garages constructed during this period) and then resumed again in the 1920's as newer buildings replaced old ones. Six new buildings were constructed and in the 1920's and eight in the 1930's. Generally speaking, thesú buildings replaced older single-family residences built during [the district's early years. The period during the 1920's is generally viewed as one of gradual growth and stability. It was at this time that commercial buildings other than multi-family buildings made their appearance along Pine Street. These included the Watson Building constructed in 1927 at 200 East Pine ^nd the Forkenbrock Funeral Home constructed at 234 East Pine Street. (Photo 46) . Some bungalow style residences also were built during this time.

In the 1930's (another period of growth due to the westward migration of those escaping the dust bowl) , multi-family buildings were constructed at 224 East Pine (McKinley Apartments in 1936-1938), at 504 East Pine (the LaSalle apartment building in 1938), at 408 East Broadway (the Green Apartments in 1938), and several single-family residences were converted to apartments. Some small, stucco cottages also were constructed at this time. The north side of the Federal Building was constructed on Pine Street in 1937. These changes, with some exceptions, were the final ones in the district that provided it with its present day appearance, with the Federal Building and the Watson Building providing a transition between the central business district along Higgins and the still predominantly historic residential buildings and apartments along East Pine Street.

To most observers, historical and contemporary, Missoula has not and does not appear to be a planned city. It is perhaps for this reason that the East Pine Street boulevard stands out as a section of town bearing some semblance of planning. It does provide a cohesiveness, but even this comes more under the heading of a landscape amenity initiated and carried out by two individuals, Frank Worden and Joseph Dixon, over a period of time. The boulevard is first of all the product of the initiative of Francis Worden who imported maple trees to Missoula from his native Vermont as soon as h^ had constructed his house in 1872 on East Pine and, in the process, inspired others to do so in Missoula, an effort which, among others, earned Missoula the title of the Garden City.

Resolution 330-A passed in September, 1915, provided for the boulevarding of East Pine Street between Pattee Street and Madison Street only, including street grading, curbing, constructing cement sidewalks to connect existing walks with curb lines, parking and boulevarding on !3oth sides and the center, planting trees along the street and providing for water connections to spray the same.

The boulevarding of East Pine Street occurred during a period when other streets and avenues weire being boulevarded in Missoula, but they lacked this center parking or median strip of the East Pine boulevard. The East Pine Street boulevard ties the two ends of Pine Street together, tends to mitigate the variety of architectural styles and building ; scales present along the street, and probably has discouraged] the intrusion of modern development in the area, despite the ^act that East Pine Street is not even formally designated a boulevard zone.

The East Pine Street District displays ^ variety of architectural styles and scales and many individual buildings display a mixture of design influences. The visual cohesiveness- of the district rests in the fact that a high percentage of the buildings were constructed in the historic period. little question that East Pine Street conveys a sense of time and place, particularly in association with Collectively, there is the visual element of the boulevard constructed in 1915, about midway between the time the district began to take shape (1890) ar^d the end of the historic period (1940). Smaller frame residences built in the 1880's and 1890's at the east end of the district exhibit vernacular/folk temple/gable front and I-house, gable and wing and side gable styles.

Outstanding examples of buildings constructed along more clearly defined architectural styles include the Folk Gothic Worden house (1872) at 328 East Pine Street; the Queen Anne Style Moratz residence (1891) at 512 East Broadway, Steiger residence (1902- 1912) at 405 East Pine Street, and Tietjen residence (1891-1902) at 329 East Pine; the Neoclassical style Dixon residence (1891- 1921) at 328 East Pine and Redle residence (1902-1903) at 431 East Pine; the Colonial Revival style of the Tyler Worden residence (1902-1903) at 410 East Pine, and the Forkenbrock Funeral Home (1929) at 234 East Pine; t(he double-bay multi-family apartments with both Neoclassical and Queen Anne design influences such as the Dildine Flats (11902-1907) at 410/412 East Broadway and the Steiger Apartments (1902-1912) at 407/409 East Pine; and the box, hip roof influence! of the Steiger Apartments (1902-1912) at 427/429 East Pine and Armstrong Apartments (1883- 1891) at 515 East Pine. Most of these primary structures were built between 1890 and 1910.

Adapted from: William A. Babcock, Jr., City of Missoula, East Pine Street Historic District, nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., accessed January, 2022.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Adams Street • Broadway • Jefferson Street • Pine Street East • Washington Street