Downtown Missoula is many things to many people. It is a crossroads and a gathering place. It is the homeland of the Salish people and a haven for artists and students. It is buildings made of local brick alongside marble and granite courthouses. It is a story of displacement, growth, and perseverance. At the root of this place is Downtown Missoula’s heritage. We consider “heritage” to be the collective fabric that defines and distinguishes Missoula. It is the spirit of place. It is how Missoula sounds, looks, smells and feels. It is what makes Missoula, Missoula.
Downtown Missoula is undergoing a period of unprecedented growth and redevelopment. A flurry of construction activity is bringing forth exciting development in the form of new and remodeled hotels, housing, businesses, shops, restaurants, and even a library. The recently completed Downtown Master Plan presents a far-reaching vision for community design. As the downtown cultural landscape evolves during this pivotal time, Missoula is presented with an opportunity to both embrace change and to celebrate the characteristics and values that make its Downtown unique – it’s heritage.
The Missoula Downtown Heritage Interpretive Plan is designed to guide downtown heritage interpretation by encouraging audiences to make meaningful connections to the shared human experience represented there. It identifies interpretive goals and issues, examines existing conditions, and provides recommendations to implement over a period of time. It also serves as an instructional tool and source of inspiration for interpretive practitioners.
More than anything, it created a comprehensive heritage program, Heritage Missoula, that will work to shape the downtown experience and celebrate the distinct character of the community by tying together key natural and cultural resources into a cohesive network.
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