A stroll through historic Missoula can leave one inspired by the past and filled with a desire to learn more about the city that first sprung up in 1860 as a trading post called Hellgate. The architecture reminds us that culture and artistry made it out West as well. The County Courthouse and spectacular 1889 St. Francis Xavier church are just down the street. Next to the river there’s the Wilma Theatre, an old-style movie house that is rumored to have been the home of Twin Peaks director David Lynch. Missoula has one of the state’s most extensive listing of properties and places on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Society’s records are used to detail the architecture and showcase the development of the community.
The commercial center of Missoula radiated from the intersection of Higgins Avenue and Front Street, which followed the Mullan Road. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883 transformed the city and contributed to the development of Missoula’s Northside. It was in about that same year that Missoula was first referred to as “the very garden of all Montana,” which comes down today as “The Garden City.” View all the sights in town by taking a Historical Walking Tour and discover the historic architecture of Missoula.