Romney Hall, Historical Society deserve upgrades

Print Article

For a decade or more our Montana Legislature has grappled with the increasing need to renovate both Romney Hall on the MSU campus in Bozeman and the Montana Historical Society museum facility in Helena.

A compelling case has been made for both these projects, but they have repeatedly come up just short of final approval in the complicated legislative process.

Romney Hall is a great and imposing old structure constructed in 1922 during the administration of Warren G. Harding. There is nothing wrong with Romney structurally. It is a bastille of a building. But it has no modern heating, air conditioning, ventilation, or modern fire suppression systems. It is inaccessible to students, faculty and staff with disabilities.

Romney now contains only four viable classrooms with a maximum capacity for 141 students. Renovation would result in 19 safe and accessible classrooms seating more than 1,000 students. The urgency of making Romney a usable building is that enrollment on the Bozeman campus has increased from 12,369 in 2008 to a current enrollment of 16,902. Thatís an increase of 37 percent in 10 years. MSU instructional facilities are bursting at the seams.

With its soaring grand arch, Romney is an iconic monument to a past era. Todayís students must continually walk around its fortress-like walls. The central location of Romney could be a major asset. Instead, the building is a huge obstruction. While it is too formidable for the wrecking ball, it could be readily converted into cost-effective educational space functional for many more decades.

As proposed in Gov. Steve Bullockís budget, the Romney project can be authorized by the current session of the legislature. It is a great idea that is long overdue. It will only become more expensive with more delay.

The Montana Historical Society is the oldest continually operating state historical society west of the Mississippi. It is currently housed in the 70-year-old Veterans and Pioneers Memorial Building. Like Romney Hall, the Historical Society building is structurally strong, but woefully in need of renovation and significant expansion. Also like Romney, it is perfectly located. It is in the center of the capitol complex where it is readily accessible to student groups and all Montanans visiting the capitol. Like Romney, it is recommended in the governorís budget.

Tragically, nearly 90 percent of the museumís nearly 50,000 wonderful artifacts and artworks are in storage for lack of exhibit space. This includes about a third of the 225 original Russell works which are owned by the Montana people but which they cannot see.

Most of the state museum facilities around the country have been converted into modern facilities. Montanans need to catch up with our history, too. Our history is a great one. It is our Montana memory. Our generation has a civic duty to adequately preserve it and pass it on. Bob Brown is a former Montana Secretary of State and State Senate President and currently serves as a member of the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees.

Print Article

Read More Columns

Bucket biology

September 11, 2019 at 8:14 am | Hungry Horse News So the Boy and I went into Lake Ellen Wilson in Gee ĎN Pee over the weekend. Alert readers may recall we went in there last year when the Howe Ridge Fire was cooking and it looked like Armageddon bac...

Comments

Read More

Interviewing Amory

September 11, 2019 at 8:10 am | Lake County Leader A classic George Ostrom column, from January, 1989... In a radio interview I did last Friday with Cleveland Amory on the phone from New York, I learned that Amory wants the stupid, kill-crazy, *$%%#...

Comments

Read More

Agencies do some good

September 11, 2019 at 8:09 am | Lake County Leader Some readers think I am too critical of the management agencies. After all, we have to live with them and we canít really control them, so we should not antagonize them. I think that attitude amounts...

Comments

Read More

On suffering

September 04, 2019 at 8:24 am | Lake County Leader A classic George Ostrom column, from March, 1989... In penance for spending two days enjoying life to the fullest at the Charlie Russell Auction and Art Show in Great Falls, I spent the next two day...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2019 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X