Monarch’s wine-red Great Northern Railway Depot and two additional nearby structures are being recommended for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.
Constructed in 1901, the Craftsman-style building is the second depot built on the property. Fire engulfed the original 1891 depot in 1900, and the Central Montana Railroad Company constructed the current depot in 1901. The four-room, 24-by-48-foot facility, which includes living quarters for the station master, was built using the same plans as the original depot, slightly to its east.
“The Monarch Depot, like the National Register-listed Kevin Depot in Toole County, is a rare example of a frame Craftsman-style train depot in Montana,” said John Boughton with the State Historic Preservation Office.
Also included in the proposed historic district is a “duplex-style privy” and a bay window caboose. The double outhouse’s construction date is unknown, but the 6-by-6-foot facility’s design includes a porch with wood lattice screen for a privacy wall.
The 42-foot Drover car caboose is the same wine red as the depot and privy. Originally was built in 1902 as a boxcar for the Northern Pacific Railway, the bay windows were added later to give conductors better vantage points. It was refurbished in 1969 and used in the Flathead and Mission valleys until the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway sold the car to the town of Belt, where it was used as a concession stand until it arrived in Monarch in 2014.
Alterations made when the Department of Transportation acquired the depot caused a major loss of design integrity, Boughton said. But the Monarch-Neihart Historical Group restored the depot to its original design. “In fact, enough historic elements remain to easily evoke the feeling of when the Monarch Depot Historic District operated in its intended purpose,” he added.
The Great Northern depot privy is one of only two remaining from that era that are still standing in Montana. The Great Northern Railway ceased operations of its Little Belt Mountain spur lines in 1945.
“The depot was the hub from which goods and services entered and left Monarch,” Boughton said. “The depot served the important mining industry of the area, the local populace, and people from neighboring towns. This district was essential to the lives of the town’s citizenry.”
The Monarch-Neihart Historical Group plans to make the depot into a visitor center. “The local restoration committee really did do a magnificent job,” said Kate Hampton, who also is with the State Historic Preservation Office and worked on the nomination. “This is a truly important story of commitment, expertise, and local community pride.”
The National Park Service will make the final decision on the historic district designation. Qualified properties can receive preservation benefits and incentives.
For more information contact John Boughton at 406/444-3647 or firstname.lastname@example.org