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ADA improvements may be coming to the Caird Pattern House

Exterior of Pattern House
Posted at 2:35 PM, Mar 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-26 16:35:07-04

HELENA — The City Commission is considering granting a Railroad Tax Increment Financing Application for $75,000 to make ADA improvements to the historic Caird Pattern House.

Pattern House Holdings, LLC currently owns the building, and the total eligible projects would cost a projected $150,000.

According to Pattern House Holdings LLC - the building was initially constructed as the German Hotel in 1886.

In 1898, the structure was purchased by Caird and Hawksworth Engineering.

Pam Attardo, the historic preservation officer for the Lewis and Clark County Tourism Council, said, "They mostly made mining equipment for the smelter and associated mines and mills."

While originally focused on mining, the engineering company reinvented itself numerous times and could fulfill almost any cast iron request.

They built penstocks for the Canyon Ferry Dam, submarine net floats during World War II, lamp posts, and manhole covers.

"You needed to have someplace where you could create cast iron elements. Otherwise, it's so expensive to ship those," Attardo said.

Cast iron work

The pattern house is where wooden patterns were kept. These patterns were used to make molds in sand before filling the mold with cast iron.

Walking around Helena, you can still see the work of Caird Engineering.

Attardo said, "There are a lot of Caird manhole covers that have the firetower on them - The Guardian of the Gulch is on there."

Manhole cover pattern

In 2021, Pattern House Holdings LLC purchased the structure and now leases the space.

The ADA improvements that they are hoping to make include adding a ramp, an emergency exit stairway, and replacing some of the building's siding.

According to Attardo, there are ways to make these changes without affecting how the building looks.

She said, "The significance of the building and that they attempt to preserve the historic integrity of the building so that it doesn't look like it's a new building."

Attardo also said she is willing to work with Pattern House Holdings LLC to make the changes while preserving history, such as placing the ADA ramp on the side of the building rather than at the front.

The commission meeting on Monday is the first step to making improvements; however, future meetings about this will be held.