“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Helena in Lewis and Clark County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

Western Life Insurance Company

Helena Branch Office

— Helena Historic District —

Western Life Insurance Company Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 15, 2021
1. Western Life Insurance Company Marker
Inscription.  Small in scale but highly distinctive, this colorful Modern style office building is an eye-catching anchor at one of Helena’s busiest intersections. When it opened in 1962, it was one of the nation’s most up-to-date office facilities. Western Life, founded in 1910 as Montana Life Insurance, grew by leaps and bounds and by 1938, the company served eight states. In 1957, Western Life affiliated with the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company; two years later Western Life moved with 120 employees to St. Paul, Minnesota. Helena architect Grant Crossman of Morrison-Maierle and Associates designed this building as the new branch office. Its curtain wall construction and bold new styling set a high standard for commercial architecture in Helena. The building is a great ambassador of the Modern style and post-World War II construction techniques. New methods of manufacturing glass, better sealants and insulation, widespread use of air conditioning, and the ready availability of aluminum made curtain wall construction feasible. Separation of the window wall from the structural system as employed here allowed use of lightweight prefabricated aluminum
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panels, glass walls, and mosaic tiles. Aluminum framing and window walls brought abundant natural lighting inside and allowed colorful embellishments like the blue metal panels and ceramic tiles. The multi-leveled building features an asymmetrical T-shape and varied surface textures. Yellow and brown Norman brick, polished pink granite cladding, and a decorative concrete block screen at the upper entry add to the visual cornucopia. The company logo and motto, “As Enduring as the Mountains,” survives to recall the building’s original owner.
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceNotable Buildings. In addition, it is included in the Montana National Register Sign Program series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1962.
Location. 46° 35.621′ N, 112° 2.449′ W. Marker is in Helena, Montana, in Lewis and Clark County. Marker is at the intersection of North Park Avenue and Gilbert Street, on the left when traveling north on North Park Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 600 North Park Avenue, Helena MT 59601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Olsen House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Gilpatrick/Root House (about 500 feet away);
Western Life Insurance Company Building and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 15, 2021
2. Western Life Insurance Company Building and Marker
YWCA (about 600 feet away); Boyer/Hawkins Residence (about 600 feet away); Palmquist Residence (approx. 0.2 miles away); Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Montana (approx. 0.2 miles away); George Grossberg Residence (approx. 0.2 miles away); Federal Reserve Bank (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Helena.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 1, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 166 times since then and 73 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 1, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Dec. 4, 2023