Making Bozeman lovely: Celebrations to honor architect Fred Willson – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Bozeman would hardly seem like Bozeman as we speak if not for architect Frederick Fielding Willson.

In his lifetime, Fred Willson designed dozens of nicely-identified and nicely-cherished buildings, from downtown Bozeman’s Ellen Theatre and Baxter Resort, to the Emerson Cultural Middle, to Montana State College’s Hamilton Corridor and the unique Pupil Union Constructing.

Past Bozeman, Willson designed West Yellowstone’s Eagle’s Retailer, Three Forks’ Sacajawea Resort and, close to the tip of his life, Troopers Chapel at Large Sky.


In almost 50 years of designing buildings, Fred Willson “would, almost single handedly, change his hometown right into a historic architectural marvel that it's as we speak,” wrote MSU historical past graduate scholar Richard Brown, who curated an exhibit on the architect earlier this 12 months.

Willson summed up his philosophy in 1954, writing that, “an architect’s enterprise is to make the issues of each day life lovely,” and create designs which have “refinement, simplicity, magnificence and good style.”

To honor Willson, his followers are organizing celebrations this week to mark the 140th anniversary of his delivery. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, free talks, receptions and strolling excursions are deliberate, together with probabilities to meet Willson descendants.

Kendra Eagle Owen of Nice Falls stated she launched the thought of honoring the architect, who died in 1956 earlier than she was born, as a result of she grew up working summers in her grandparents’ retailer in West Yellowstone. Willson designed the country, log-and-stone constructing in 1927, freed from cost for Sam and Ida Eagle.

Impressed by the “parkitecture” type of the Previous Devoted Inn, she stated, it has “an incredible sense of place.”

“Sitting on the soda fountain, it’s my favourite constructing on Earth,” Owen stated. She plans to give a chat titled, “A Belated Tribute and Thank You to Fred Willson.”

On Monday, Bozeman Mayor Carson Taylor is scheduled to proclaim the second week in November as Fred F. Willson week, to honor his “ongoing legacy (that) enriches all who've his buildings as a part of their lives.”

Fred Willson was born on Nov. 11, 1877, in a pioneer cabin that stood on what's as we speak the parking zone of First Safety Financial institution, Brown wrote. Younger Fred’s father, Gen. Lester Willson, a Civil Struggle Union Military veteran and Bozeman service provider, was so outstanding, the city would rename Central Avenue in his honor.

Fred was born only a 12 months and a half after the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Bozeman was nonetheless a fledgling city, with streets of rutted mud. The Northern Pacific Railroad arrived when Willson was 6 years previous. Montana didn’t change into a state till he was virtually 12.

Willson began his schooling on the Montana State School Agricultural and Mechanical Arts, and transferred to New York Metropolis’s Columbia College, incomes a level in structure in 1902. Later he spent a pair years on a grand tour of Europe and studied in Paris, which influenced his work.

After working for different architects’ corporations in Helena and Butte, Willson opened his personal workplace in Bozeman in 1910.

Over the following 46 years, he designed greater than 300 buildings in all kinds of types, from the fortress-impressed Gallatin County jail (dwelling as we speak to the Gallatin Historical past Museum) to the Artwork Deco-type County Courthouse.

He designed the Bon Ton Bakery, the Dokken-Nelson funeral dwelling and the Nationwide Guard Armory. In the course of the Melancholy he designed Longfellow, Irving and Hawthorne faculties and Willson College, which bears his identify.

At MSU, Willson designed the unique engineering constructing Roberts Corridor, Traphagen Corridor, the Energy Plant and the Quads, dwelling of the Honors School. He designed many Bozeman properties and residences, together with the Graf home. He even designed the Bogert Park band shell, in accordance to a paper by Ann Butterfield, former assistant director of the Historical past Museum.

Willson was not a fan of recent structure, as he wrote in a 1952 diary entry, quoted by Butterfield: “Summary and onerous to perceive.”

“Design goes past the construction, and the economics,” Fred Willson wrote. “It's involved with the folks, their wants, their desires, and their happiness.”

His type was “eclectic and stylish, traditional and timeless,” Brown wrote. “His work by no means shouted out or pushed past strong classical expression, they had been by no means monuments to his ego. They all the time invited me in.”

Free public occasions will start on Friday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m., with a one-hour strolling tour of downtown, led by Brown and beginning on the Emerson Cultural Middle.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, there might be displays by Brown and Owen and a reception from 5 to 7 p.m., within the Gallatin Historical past Museum, 317 W. Major St.

On Sunday, Nov. 12, from to three p.m., there might be a presentation, reception and strolling tour on the Sacajawea Resort, with Brown, Patrick Finnegan and Royce Smith, MSU dean of the School of Arts & Structure.

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Making Bozeman lovely: Celebrations to honor architect Fred Willson - The Bozeman Daily Chronicle