The NMHS got started in the early 1960s as an informal group working to preserve the history of Northwest Montana. In the mid-1990s they found their calling and marshaled forces to save the four-story stone and brick Central School building from destruction, one of the last and best remaining examples in Montana of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. They were successful in getting the City of Kalispell to spend $2.4 million of federal block grant funds to completely renovate and restore the venerable structure in 1998, and proceeded to open it as a history museum in 1999. The Museum at Central School, now in its second decade, boasts about 800 supporting members, 80 active volunteers, and a paid staff of four. the Museum features exhibitions on the Indians of the Northwest, Montana pioneer Frank Bird Linderman, the Timber Industry in Northwest Montana, the turn-of-the-century community of Demersville, and a new History of the Flathead Valley exhibition. There are additional, smaller rotating exhibitions. The facility now preserves and protects some 20,000 artifacts, photos, records and documents. They have an active oral history project that has captured more than 200 stories of local residents and pioneers. A monthly history book club and a historic film club meet with solid support, and a Native Plants Garden enhances the buildings grounds, which also includes a large lawn area with giant shade trees and picnic tables. Two large 1000 square foot rooms with elegant period decor and thirteen foot high ceilings are available for rent and host upwards of 150 community events each year. Several thousand local school students learn each year from docent guided tours. This is one thriving local history museum that is well worth a look.
Review from Guidestar