The Montana Historical Society retooled its Historic Montana offering, a expanded and redesigned website, mobile app, and iPad exhibit. Historic Montana features narrative histories, photographs, and links to sources for hundreds of Montana buildings, neighborhoods, and cultural sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its abundant content is reproduced from the thousands of National Register interpretive signs at properties across the state.

MHS first published the histories from its collection of National Register sign text in 2017 with the launch of ExploreBig.org. This website and app initially included information on 250 individual properties and several historic district and themed tours. In January 2019, the MHS Outreach and Interpretation team began efforts to make a good thing even better by uploading our entire treasure trove of National Register sign texts compiled during the past 30 years.

Historic Montana now comprises nearly 1,800 colorful essays on a dizzying array of Montana historic sites that include everything from grand business blocks, churches, and schoolhouses to railroad depots, brothels, mansions, homes, and more. Most properties listed in in Historic Montana also have at least one photograph and links to further reading and additional images. Users can also choose from 75 different curated tours, including historic districts such as Butte, Red Lodge, and Virginia City, or themed tours such as early Montana, railroads, courthouses, or labor temples. 

Visitors to the Historical Society can try out the app on a dedicated iPad outside the second-floor MHS Research Center. Anyone can download the app for free from the Apple or Google Play stores to any personal device. While the app requires an internet or cellular connection to fully function, users who plan to be offline but still want to use the app can download the text before heading out to explore. 

“Whether you’re sitting in your living room, shopping downtown, or driving down a rural road in Eastern Montana, Historic Montana is the go-to resource to learn about many of Montana’s National Register historic sites,” said Christine Brown ,MHS historian and project manager. “It’s an invaluable tool for students and teachers, researchers, genealogists, and curious travelers delving into place-based Montana history.”

The public is also invited to submit historic and contemporary photos for inclusion in the website and app. Email jpeg files (max 1 MB per photo) with the property name and address to Christine.brown@mt.gov. Mail print copies to Christine Brown, Montana Historical Society, PO Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620. Print copies will not be returned. For more information about purchasing a MHS National Register of Historic Places sign for your property, visit https://mhs.mt.gov/Shpo/Signs.