Madison County commissioner Dan Happel met with developer Leslie Adams in Twin Bridges on Friday to tour the historic Montana Children’s Center as a possible location for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center.
Madison County was recently placed on the short list as a potential site for the hall, and local representatives from the Madison County Economic Development Council will meet with a selection committee Friday to lobby for the museum to be built at one of three locations in Madison County.
The Montana Children’s Center is located on the Beaverhead River in Twin Bridges and was originally built in 1892 as the Montana State Orphan Home. During the Great Depression the 26-acre property was home to nearly 400 children and continued to operate into the 1970’s until it closed in 1976 as numbers declined and more children were placed in foster homes. The 26 buildings on the property offer more than 140,000 square feet of interior space.
Since purchasing the property in 2005 Leslie Adams has spent countless hours renovating and restoring the facilities. She’s replaced leaking roofs and removed asbestos-grade flooring, maintaining and preparing the grounds to once again become a cornerstone of the Twin Bridges community.
Adams opened some of the abandoned buildings for Happel to see the interior, noting improvements that have been made throughout the premises. As he walked through the empty hallways, in and out of empty dorm rooms and up and down old wooden staircases, he remarked on the unique architecture and relatively good condition of the historic facility.
“You’ve certainly got a lot of buildings to work with,” Happel said.
Currently Adams lives at the facility in what was at one time the superintendent building. While she’s worked hard to convert the property into her home, she’s more than happy to contribute to the Twin Bridges community by selling the historic facility to be converted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.
“My goal has always been just to lay the ground work to bring this place as a whole back up to life,” Adams said. “I’m just so excited about this opportunity because it was so easy to fit what they envision
“We have the bones of history in my buildings and the neighborhood of cowboys five and six generations strong to make this a true heritage center as an alternative to the high tech new construction project they suggest,” Adams said in a recent email. “The restoration for a museum would help our local economy relatively quickly and the project could be up and running here faster than breaking ground over the hill or anywhere else.”
The property is currently listed for $2.9 million, but Adams said she has made an offer to sell it to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame for $13.50 per square foot, a price significantly less than the current listing.
The Madison County Economic Development Council will meet with the selection committee Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the Madison County courthouse in Virginia City.