Preserved food bank 

Missoulians may be getting their everyday man’s historic district—the formerly working-class McCormick neighborhood area has recently been nominated as a National Historic District. But the Missoula Historic Preservation Office has altered renovation plans for The Missoula Food Bank—an agency also devoted to the plight of the everyday man. Already located in a designated historic district, the Food Bank wanted to give its home a face lift, but the Preservation Office has to sign off on the federal money for the renovation, meaning the office gets to say how a new Food Bank will look. “It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but they want to keep the outside as it is, and we want to blend it in with all the surrounding buildings,” says Bank Executive Director Cynthia Lotty. “Outside is the least important part to me, but we want to redo the whole building…We need the federal money to do that.”

The Food Bank’s 219 South Third West building was built in 1953, which makes it eligible under at least one criteria for preservation, but its look doesn’t match the red brick façades across the street. Lotty wanted the building to blend in, but stripping away the Food Bank’s multi-colored block facing and adding brick wainscoting would remove its historic character, says Historic Preservation Officer Philip Maechling.

The improvements the Food Bank hoped for weren’t all cosmetic. In addition to a new façade, the Bank planned on putting in new, energy efficient windows, but this would have meant changing the windows’ shape and size—something the Preservation Office wouldn’t allow. The Food Bank’s exterior will still be renovated—it’s going to get a new sign, insulated glassing for the windows and new lighting—but from the outside it will look largely the same as it ever has.

“Our client would really like to have a nice new building for people that use their services to come to, so with these constraints we’re really not fulfilling our job, in a way,” says senior designer John Danicich of Paradigm Architecture & Planning.

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