Written by: Stephen Flink
There are old buildings, and there are really old buildings. The Missoula Mercantile Building is a really old building – at least by Montana standards. Now after 130 years the building is to be renovated as a historic tax credit project and redeveloped into a mixed-use multiple tenant downtown landmark!
Not long ago the CTA team working on the project set out to learn as much about the history of the Missoula Mercantile Company, its building, and its importance to Missoula and western Montana. We have used everything from Sanborn maps to personal accounts of local Missoulians to piece together the many details into a complete description of the Mercantile Company’s long history. What we are finding is a colorful history that shows the building served as the heart of early Missoula, and when it was closed in 2009 it still represented almost 20 percent of all retail sales in downtown.
In search of bullion and as-builts, CTA has been dirty, lost and at some points even a little frightened within the 100,000 square feet of the historic Missoula Mercantile Building. Using our saws-all and hammer we have found some of the beautiful original structure of the Merc hidden behind layers of gypsum and years of neglect.
We are excited to get the demo crew hard at work, as many of us still believe there is bullion to be had within the walls of the Merc…..
So far, the Merc team consists of Stephen Flink, David Koel, Ryan Schreibeis, Lesley Gilmore, Jeff Crouch, Sarah Berwald, Nathan Ratz, Brent Hecker, Ron McLean, Jacob Mortensen, Zac Conley, Beth Davis, Shane Jacobs and Carl Maehl.