HELENA – The Montana National Guard Armory was built between 1940 and 1942 according to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It, along with the old liquor warehouse in downtown Helena, were acquired by D & M Development of Helena in a land swap with the state.
After the National Guard vacated the building, it housed Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality until the property was found to have lead issues.
“Obviously, we wanted a clean building that was well below the standards for lead. The remediation took about four months,” says Mark Esponda with D & M Development.
Esponda says when it came to the land swap with the state, in which they acquired the armory and old liquor warehouse, it was important buildings have a future.
“I think that this is just a cornerstone of the community and a great iconic building,” says Esponda. “And so that was the main reason we were interested in this building.”
The remediation process is now complete and renovation of the property is partially finished.
“Depending on what type of tenant we bring in to the building we might have to do some upgrades, fire sprinklers, and those sorts of things. But for the most part the way the building is designed now for professional offices, the top two floors are ready to occupy at any time,” says Esponda.
Whatever the Armory’s future holds, Esponda says it’s an important piece of the city’s history that deserves a chance to continue on as the cornerstone of downtown Helena that it is.
“It’s exciting to take an old building that was kind of useless because of that contamination and bring it back to life.”
There is one tenant planning to move in to the Armory – Bloom Montessori – which is currently located on the Walking Mall.
Bloom Director Vanessa Nasset says they hope to be in by the fall. The new location will allow them to expand their infant and elementary aged programs and allow them to become a full Spanish immersion program, as well.