The Missoula Mercantile has been issued a death warrant.
We have a preservation emergency in front of us right now. Out of town developers have applied to the city to demolish the historic Missoula Mercantile, repeatedly stating that saving the Merc “does not work” for them. They do not engage in historic preservation and have the track record to prove it. They do have the backing of the mayor who said “there is nothing significant about that building, only the site is historic”. He could not be more wrong.
The Missoula Mercantile is our oldest and most important historic structure. It is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been named one of the ten most important historic structures in Montana. We believe it is necessary to preserve it.
Our Historic Preservation Commission rightly voted to deny this demolition permit. Now they are under fire from their own city government for being “extreme preservationists” and “obstructionists”. The State Historic Preservation Office came to the same conclusion to deny the application. City Hall has engaged in a campaign to harass, intimidate, and persecute their own Preservation Commission in the name of speedy and poorly thought out development.
Preserve Historic Missoula, a non-profit community organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic resources of Missoula, advocates on behalf of saving Missoula’s unique identity, our community’s signature, through preservation of our historic structures and landscapes. You can help us with this effort.
Preserve Historic Missoula is the only community group to step forward to voice concerns about the demolition application process and take action. Once we saw the application we knew we had to hire an attorney. With our attorney’s expertise we are on the public record with a detailed analysis of the mistakes and omissions in the demolition permit application but also inconsistencies in city government’s process.
We need your financial help so that we can continue this legal fight to Save the Merc. We have raised $8400 to date but need another $10,000 to get an appeal to district court should City Council approve the permit.
Remember downtown Missoula in the 1970’s? It was a virtual ghost town after construction of Southgate Mall. Buildings in the commercial core had been remodeled thru the 1950’s and 60’s covering up old facades and replacing them with more modern materials. The end result was that Missoula’s downtown had little aesthetic or historic context. What did business owners do? They began to restore their buildings back to the original facades. And what happened? People came back downtown. We now have scores of successful restorations and adaptively reused buildings on every block from the Wilma to the Northern Pacific Depot and from Orange St to Madison. The Merc can be one of those.
Please help us reach our goal of $10,000 by contributing to our legal fund today. Time is of the essence.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent situation. I can be reached at 406-531-9801 to answer any questions you may have.
President, Preserve Historic Missoula
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