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Tag Archives: A..J. Gibson


100th Anniversary First Presbyterian Church of Missoula

In 1909, Missoula was a town to be talked about. Its second railroad, the Milwaukee, had finally reached town, an electric streetcar system ran the streets, and a new modern Higgins Avenue bridge had been recently completed.
Reverend Dr. John Maclean was also just arriving to town, delivering his first sermons at the First Presbyterian Church of Missoula. At that time, church buildings were not just used for worship, but were social centers for town as well. On a daily basis the Brotherhood Club, Boy Scouts and a variety of women’s groups were using the small church. By 1910, Maclean and local architect and congregation member, A.J. Gibson, began plans for a larger church.

In 1912, lots were purchased on the south side of Missoula, at South Fifth and Myrtle street, and the current church was finished three years later. Though Gibson had retired in 1913, he came out of retirement to design the large scale Gothic Revival-style brick church as his last official project. The building includes an enormous square bell tower, steep central gable, and pointed-arch windows. Its large size and nod to European style of architecture makes it the showcase of the South Side.


John Maclean was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church from 1909 to 1925. His sons, Norman and Pual, grew up in Missoula and learned to fly fish in the surrounding rivers. It was their adventures in Missoula that sparked Norman to write “A River Runs Through It.”


On September 13th, 2015 the First Presbyterian Church will be celebrating its 100th year with a variety of events. Check out their website for more information:

History of Main Hall

The University of Montana was established in 1893 and students took classes in the “old Willard School.” The first series of buildings were designed around the oval in 1895. The University of Montana expand its territories and set of buildings. Today the University of Montana has 156 acres, 64 buildings, a 23,500-seat football stadium and nine dormitory residence halls.

Main Hall is the oldest building at the University of Montana and is situated right across the oval at the “heart of the campus.” Main Hall presents the “birth of this institution.” A. J. Gibson, well known architect, designed Main Hall as “the Richardsonian Romanesque style building.” The Main Hall and school opening was in 1899. “During the university’s dedication ceremony in 1898, corn, oil, and water symbolizing plenty, joy, and peace were poured over the building’s cornerstone. Today the hourly chiming of the bells in the majestic bell tower serves as constant reminder of the enduring solidity of the university.”

The University of Montana was silent these days because the campus was in the process of making changes on the clock tower and roof. The University of Montana was able to fund $1.4 million state and university funds to renovate the clock tower and roof . The renovations includes masonry repairs and construct a web of iron structure inside the tower. “The goal of the project is to make changes while maintaining the legendary look of the University’s cornerstone. UM architect and project manager Jerry Ballas said this is the first major reconstruction project on the building’s exterior.”