Preservation - Western Style
After we left our glamping and our gently lowing cattle near Yellowstone, we headed north to Bozeman, which we quite honestly fell in love with!
I did a substantial part of my thesis on Bozeman's historic preservation efforts. Though they have changed somewhat since then, the basic premise remains the same — almost the entire city is encompassed within a conservation district that covers over 4,000 structures of 50+ years of age. Within that are several preservation districts and a large number of individual sites. The city also offers strong technical support and outreach.
Why does this matter? Well, first of all, the housing stock is lovely and there is a lot of sense of place. We drove around taking tons of windshield pictures.
The new construction is also very well done and fitting.
But why does this matter? It all spills over into the downtown area, which was exceptionally vibrant and filled with people, and places to eat and drink, and unusual shops as well as the kinds of stores people need (an amazing hardware store, and, being Montana, LOTS of outdoor stores). It's exactly the sense that so many cities try to achieve, and fall short on.
We proceeded to Missoula, which I have wanted to see ever since my friend 9 was in school there.
Missoula had a different sense. The "Hip Strip" was almost barren of "hipness." though we did have some good beer at Gild and Beatrix did some vintage shopping.
We far preferred walking across the bridge to downtown, checking out the surfers in the river,
and checking out the places there including the Tamarack Taproom.
Which is to say, Missoula is more like Saint Paul in that it seems to be letting its neighborhoods and commercial areas develop themselves. I think the Hip Strip, much like Grand Avenue, was very fun a decade ago. But now, like Grand, it just seems a little lost. While Bozeman seems to have found the right way to inspire growth and activity, Missoula hangs just a little too far behind.
So I think I'll have another piece to write soon expanded on how preservation helps growth. Including, perhaps, some thoughts about my grandparent's former home being for sale....