Historic Preservation


The Alder Gulch area in Montana has a rich history that is worth preserving. The Historic Preservation Team of the Montana Heritage Commission faces challenges within the building environment of every imaginable kind. It is sometimes difficult to obtain building materials of the same era for repairs and restoration. Some of the period correct techniques do not lend themselves to long lasting preservation. When approaching structures of stone, brick, log or wood frame, the small group of dedicated professionals resolve complex scenarios with conscientious tradesmanship and constantly seek to expand their knowledge of traditional craftsmanship. The main location of the Montana Heritage Commission is a building known as Content's Corner. Careful consideration was taken when remodeling it for office space to preserve its historic value. Many details from the original construction were highlighted such as small cut-out views in the wall to show the original wall paper.

Contents Corner in 1864
Content's Corner today



The 19th century communities of Virginia City and Nevada City provide a living laboratory for preservation.  There is a wealth of historic fabric in Alder Gulch. The team explores issues of suspending material deterioration, eliminating moisture, and restoring the original appearance of buildings and features lost to time. Additionally, building materials are studied, researched, and explored for conservation treatments, and cutting-edge techniques are employed on their behalf.

Richard's Cabin before preservation efforts Nevada City, Montana
Richard's Cabin after preservation efforts, Nevada CIty Montana
Governor Thomas F Meagher's Cabin

Governor Thomas F. Meagher's Cabin is one of Montana Heritage Commission's more recent restoration projects. Meagher started West in September 1865 after being appointed territorial secretary, which was the position behind Governor Edgerton. When he arrived, fellow Irishmen led a parade for him from Nevada City to Virginia City playing tribute for his role in fighting for Irish freedom. After Edgerton left for Ohio and failed to return, Meagher became acting governor. This is the home he shared with his wife, Elizabeth. After restoration efforts are fully completed the Montana Heritage Commission plans to make the building into an interpretive center.


The lot of the Methodist Church was used as a lumberyard before D.C. Farwell built the Gothic Revival style church. Stucco scored to resemble cut stone covers the rubble stone walls in imitation of stone Gothic buildings in the East. The first service held here was the funeral of William Fairweather, discoverer of Alder Gulch on August 28, 1875. Church services took place until the early 1900s and then it was used for the school gym until 1935. Charles A. Bovey bought it from Andrew J. Davis of the First National Bank of Butte in November of 1953. The Montana Heritage Commission will off the church for weddings, social gatherings, and a convention center upon completion of its restoration.

Restored Methodist Church


Sarah Gammon Bickfords house

Sarah Blair arrived in Virginia City during the gold rush with Judge John J. Murphy to help care for his children, when he was appointed to a judicial post in Virginia City, Montana Territory. She married Stephen Bickford in 1883. In 1888, she and Stephen acquired a portion of the water system that supplied Virginia City with drinking water. Sarah Bickford is recognized as being one of the first African American women to be a business owner in the Montana Territory and she was inducted in the Montana Historical Society Hall of Fame in 2013. After renovations are completed the house will be a vacation rental as well as interpretive center.

For information on preservation efforts or to receive a hard copy of the current report, contact the Montana Heritage Commission Preservation Team with at 406-843-5247, ext. 239.  Consider a donation today to preserve Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana.

Worker during preservation effortsWorker during preservation effortsWorkers finishing reconstructive roof work