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Garden City Commercial College - Missoula, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 51.966 W 113° 59.884
12T E 271508 N 5194648
Quick Description: Originally built as the Garden City Commercial College this beautifully restored Queen Anne building has since been turned into condos.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 3/1/2015 2:03:29 AM
Waymark Code: WMNENF
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
This building is a primary contributing building to the Missoula Southside Historic District.

Many discrepancies have been noted between the history given below and the National Register Nomination Form. Where there is a difference, the Nomination Form numbers are included in square brackets.

For example, the address given from other sources is 124 South Fifth Street West, whereas the Nomination Form gives the address as 120. This is the address we shall use here.

History of the Babs
Garden City Commercial College

In 1902, renowned Missoula architect A. J. Gibson began designing a grand apartment house and commercial building in the area known as the "Knowles Addition" south of the Clark Fork River. After completion in 1905, the three-story brick structure towered over its neighbours. The building now known as the Babs is an example of pure Queen Anne-style Victorian architecture, featuring two front towers that resemble candle snuffers, and ample, airy, column-lined porch, and at the very top gabled dormer windows.

The building's first owners were John and Hattie Keith (as in Keith Avenue in Missoula's University District). Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, John Keith served three terms as Missoula's mayor, each time running unopposed on a "citizen's ticket."

[The Nomination Form states that the building was built in 1905 and that the Garden City Commercial College was the first occupant.]

The next owners were Mary T. Bandman, the recent widow of a well-loved Shakespearian actor, and Edward Charles Reitz, who operated the Garden City Commercial College. "The Athens of Business Education," as the college was called in a 1905 advertisement, had started on the north side of the river, but moved into the new building in 1910. [1905] "Garden City Commercial College" is still etched in the sidewall at the bottom of the front steps. Students of the college learned banking, bookkeeping, commercial law, practical English, shorthand, grammar, dictation, commercial arithmetic, rapid calculation, penmanship, and civil government.

Renamed the Missoula Business College in 1913, [when it was sold by Edward Reitz to Edwin Koch] the college continued educating students until 1930. That year, the building was turned into apartments managed by a man named Harry Rawn. It became known as the Rawn Apartments. Harry and his wife, Mabel, lived in the building--supposedly in Apartment #10--for the next two decades with their children, Dorothy and Melville.

The building received its current moniker just after World War II, when Jerry Aasheim bought the icon and named it after his little girl. Babs, Aasheim's daughter, is alive and well and teaching school in Corvallis, Oregon.

By the late 1950s, the Babs began housing an increasing number of University of Montana students. Over the past half-century, the Babs evolved from prim-and-proper to wild-and-woolly. It earned an enduring reputation as "the place to be."
From The Babs


Public/Private: Private

Tours Available?: No

Year Built: 1905

Web Address:

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