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Over $5 Million To Preserve Montana Historic Sites Awarded

Temporary shutters are used at the Livingston Depot Center for museum signage and to insulate the building.
Olivia Weitz
Yellowstone Public Radio
Temporary shutters are used at the Livingston Depot Center for museum signage and to insulate the building.

Twenty-three Montana communities this year will receive just over $5 million in state funding to preserve historic sites.

The Livingston Depot Center in downtown Livingston will use funds to renovate aging single-pane windows.

“The people visiting Livingston for the last 120 years love the windows,” says Laura Cota, Executive Director of the Livingston Depot Foundation.

Cota says the windows have greeted visitors on their way to Yellowstone National Park since the depot became a welcome center in 1902.

“As passengers disembarked the train they would enter into the depot building and see these beautiful windows that framed downtown Livingston,” Cota explains.

But for most of the year views of downtown are blocked by temporary shutters. That’s because air seeping in was driving up utility bills. $140,000 in grant funds will pay to repair cracks in the window panes and build custom storm windows.

That grant funding comes from the Montana Historic Preservation Grant program, established by the 2019 Legislature. The program is paid for through an increase in the hotel tax.

Scott Osterman, Director of the Montana Department of Commerce, says the program represents one of the largest investments in historic preservation the state of Montana has ever made.

“It gives us a sense of who we are and to maintain and retain our heritage and our unique Montana way of life,” says Osterman.

The Commerce Department reviewed grant applications and made recommendations to the legislature. The Milwaukee Depot in Missoula will also receive funds. Other projects include renovating the exterior of the Boulder Hot Springs building and an upgrade to the Yucca Theatre in Hysham.

Osterman hopes that improvements to historic sites will lead more Montanans, and tourists, to visit the sites that make Montana unique. For those interested in railroad history, the Livingston depot museum is open until September this year. Windows will be completed in the spring of 2022. That’s also when the Commerce Department will collect the next round of preservation grants.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.