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Helena city commission votes against demolishing of historic 'Hedges Home' near downtown Helena

Hedges House
Posted at 9:50 PM, Sep 26, 2022

HELENA — One of Helena’s oldest neighborhoods will not see a change soon, as the Helena City Commission voted to deny the proposal to demolish the Cornelius Hedges house at the corner of Rodney and Broadway Streets.

After several public comments against the proposal, and a detailed description from the building’s owners about the situation they find themselves in regarding the building, the Commission voted 3-1 to deny the proposal.

Commissioner Melinda Reed motioned to deny the proposal, Commissioner Andy Shirtliff seconded the motion. Mayor Wilmot Collins joined Reed and Shirtliff in voting to deny the proposal. Commissioner Sean Logan was the lone vote for the proposal, citing his empathy towards the owners' and investors' financial situation.

Estimates put forward before the committee at the meeting estimated that it would cost over $1.4 million to renovate the building, and closer to $2 million to demolish the building and replace it with an eight-unit apartment building proposed by the investors.

With the vote finalized, the building's owners now have six months to the work with the city and other entities to create a plan to renovate the home.

The house at 320 E. Broadway was built in 1878 for Cornelius Hedges. According to historians, Hedges was one of the first lawyers to practice in Helena, a superintendent of schools before Montana became a state, and a member of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Party that explored what we now know as Yellowstone National Park.

The building was deemed uninhabitable after a fire in 2018, and has been vacant for years, but was not condemned.

Prior to being deemed uninhabitable, the building was used as a four-plex of apartments. Hedge’s son converted the home into apartments in the 1920s including maple hardwood flooring, new kitchens, and bathrooms in each unit. Some of the original work from a century is still in the apartments today.

(Original reporting regarding the proposal done by Marian Davidson)