Emerson School - Bozeman, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 45° 40.661 W 111° 02.427
12T E 496849 N 5058238
Quick Description: Now one of the oldest buildings in Bozeman originally intended as a school, the former Emerson School is today a centre for arts and culture.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 4/26/2019 10:56:31 PM
Waymark Code: WM10F3X
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member dreamhummie
Views: 1

Long Description:
Built beginning in 1918, Emerson School was completed in 1920 at a cost of $93,000. Designed by prominent local architect Fred F. Willson, the two storey red brick building replaced the previous school, the first Irving School, built in 1892. In the mid 1930s more classroom space became necessary so an addition to the school was made. In an attempt to harmonize the new construction with the original building, Fred Willson was again retained as the architect. Funding was obtained through the Public Works Administration (PWA); and in 1939 the two-story brick addition was completed on the northwest corner.

Architectural Classification: Neo-Gothic Revival
Materials: foundation: concrete walls: brick roof: metal sheeting other: limestone

The exterior walls of the school are of raked, earth toned brick set in common bond. The walls are relieved by regularly placed large windows with limestone sills. Carved limestone was also used as coping for the slightly crenelated parapet, for belt courses at the second floor and first floor sill levels, and for decorative detailing and quoining surrounding the segmental arched entrances. The doorways and windows are all set within deep reveals.

The main entrances to the school are especially noteworthy. The primary entrance on the east elevation facing Grand Ave. protrudes slightly from the building and is composed of three doorways finished with carved limestone architraves marking each of the three sets of double wooden doorways. The name "Emerson" is inscribed in a stone panel set above the central archway. A carved stone shield with "1918" is set in the center of the parapet on the front facade above "Emerson" and is fitted with a flag pole holder. The north entrance features decorative detailing similar to the primary entrances, and a multi-light fanlight is set above the double wooden doors.
From the NRHP Registration Form

At the time it was entered in the National Register, the school was still used as classrooms for Kindergarten to Grade 4 students. No longer a school, the building is now home to the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture. Emerson School was purchased from the Bozeman Public School District in 1992 and in May 1993, the Emerson opened its doors to the public. The historic building was renovated then with working artists and musicians, creating a popular theater as well as exhibition, gallery, retail and rental space. The stated mission of The Emerson is "to build community by promoting art and culture".

Emerson School
Emerson School is an excellent example of the Neo-Gothic Revival style, which was commonly employed in the design of early 20th century public buildings. The Gothic style limestone ornament surrounding the triple entrance on the east elevation is of special note. The integrity of the property has been faithfully maintained due to careful upkeep and maintenance of the original design and materials. The building gains additional architectural significance due to its association with Bozeman's premier architect of the early 20th Century, Fred F. Willson, who designed both the original 1918 building as well as the 1939 addition to the west.

The west addition, which was built using PWA funding during the late 1930s, was built using brick that complements the original 1918 building. Completed in 1939, the windows were all located at the exact same height and with the same dimensions as those in the original building. The soldier courses were also continued across the brickwork of the new addition.

The one added feature of the PWA entrance is the limestone frieze above the doorway. The final design represents three young students, one female and two male, practicing reading, math and music. It is interesting that this was a departure from the original drawing which had the third student counting on his fingers instead of playing music. Apparently, someone saw the original drawings and expressed concern to the architect that none of the arts had been represented in this frieze so the alteration was made to reflect a broader curriculum. Underneath and set just inside the door, Willson allowed for a small vestibule just inside the outer doors, just as he had in the original building's doorways.

For over 50 years, Fred F. Willson served as Bozeman's premier architect. He was responsible for the design of most of the city's major civic, commercial and residential buildings, including the Gallatin County Courthouse, the Baxter Hotel, the Ellen Theater, the Blackstone Apartments, most of the city's schools, and a number of residences for prominent citizens. Born in 1877, Fred F. Willson was the son of General Lester Willson, an early settler to Montana. He received formal architectural training at Columbia University and he returned to work in the Gallatin Valley by the late 1890s. More than any other individual, Willson had a significant impact upon the present appearance of this small southwestern Montana city.
From the NRHP Registration Form

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111 South Grand Avenue
Bozeman, MT USA

Web Site: [Web Link]

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