05/17/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/17/2023 17:24
Three Billings properties rich in history have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Pioneer Park, McKinley Elementary School, and the Billings Communal Mausoleum at Mountview Cemetery were recognized during the Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 5, 2023.
Billings Mayor Bill Cole and Executive Director of the Western Heritage Center Kevin Kooistra traveled to Helena to accept certificates of registration from the Montana Historical Society's Sate Historic Preservation Office. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation.
Pioneer Park was named in 1918 to honor the pioneers who settled in eastern Montana and founded the City of Billings.
The park is approximately 32.5 acres, includes areas for recreation, and varies from relatively flat meadows to steep graded hills and gentle slopes.
Characterized by mature tree cover, Pioneer Park retains a high level of integrity due to its original location, setting, feeling, and association that have remained intact.
Pioneer Park remains significant as one of Billings' primary areas of public recreation, as intended upon construction more than one hundred years ago.
McKinley Elementary School was constructed in 1906 and opened for use in January of 1907.
In 1917, an addition was made to the building's north side. Another expansion was made in 1958, but it was replaced by an addition in 2015 to accommodate increased student enrollment. A rehabilitation of the entire building also took place that year.
Because the school sits at the center of the block, the 2015 addition was designed to fill the northwest area of the site, providing room for ample greenspace and playgrounds.
The original south entry continues to face these grounds, maintaining the original relationship to the neighborhood.
The Billings Communal Mausoleum is one of only three known community mausoleums built in Montana during the Early 20th Century.
In 1920, the City of Billings authorized $100,000 to build a community mausoleum on the western edge of Mountview Cemetery, the newly established municipal cemetery.
Construction on the 330-crypt mausoleum began in late 1920, and, although the mausoleum wasn't formally dedicated until 1924, it was placed into operation in 1922, becoming Montana's first community mausoleum. The three Billings properties detailed above were among 26 properties across 15 counties to receive national register certificates.
They were listed in 2021 and 2022 and recognized during the 2023 Montana Historical Society biennial awards ceremony.
We would like to thank the Western Heritage Center and the State Historic Preservation Office for supporting the Yellowstone Historic Preservation Board, which is a board of the City of Billings.