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Helena has lovely examples of Moorish style architecture


The final segment of Spanish style architecture is called the Moorish style. It originates not in Spain, but in the Northern African and Arabic countries Spain used to control many centuries ago. The style was quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century as awareness of the Islamic culture was beginning to grow among Americans. This style of architecture has several elements that stand out, such as horseshoe windows and doorways, pointed arches, minaret towers, onion domes, and glazed tiles in many bright colors. Helena has a number of structures in the Moorish style, among them the Shrine building commissioned in 1920, which is now the Civic Center. The Hebrew Benevolent Society's Temple Emmanuel is another Helena landmark that is in the Moorish style. Careful examination of some of Helena's business buildings also shows Moorish influence. The P.B. Moss Mansion in Billings is a residence constructed with many Moorish influences and is a must-see for those interested.

Recently, we visited Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif. While Casa del Sol, Casa de Montagne and Casa del Mar are constructed in the Spanish style form of architecture, Casa Grande is an excellent form of Moorish style architecture and was well worth seeing.

Congratulations are in order for Janet Dryden, this year's recipient of the fourth annual Havre Historic Preservation Award. Janet has purchased a cute 1930s-era home and is doing a marvelous job bringing back the elements that make this house special. Kudos are also in order for Keith and Bonnie Doll for the historic sign placed in the front yard of Witt Realty.

The sign program is one of the Havre Historic Preservation Commission's goals, and we encourage those interested to contact our office. We will then provide you with information regarding the sign program, which is sponsored by the Montana Historical Society in Helena. The guidelines are easy: The home must either be on the National Register of Historic Places individually or a primary or contributing home in an established historic district placed on the National Register. Then, depending on the type of classification, the signs can cost as little as $35 for the homeowner to purchase. The signs can run between $300 and $500 each, and the state contributes the remainder.

The Havre Historic Preservation Commission has also purchased light pole banners to be placed in our Residential Historic District. These should be arriving in mid-June. We have also received this year's selections for the Preservation Library, to be housed in the Preservation Office. We will be developing a lending policy soon, and after the policy is adopted we invite you to come and browse the publications we have purchased. Topics include revitalization of old downtowns, tips on "historic housekeeping," what to look for in an historic home, and historic preservation law.

We will conduct a tour of a portion of the historic district free of charge every Saturday at 7 p.m., starting at the Heritage Center, weather pending. If you would like more information on historic preservation or the Havre Historic Preservation Commission, please contact us at 265-6233.


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