The Helena Civic Center was built in 1920 as a Shrine temple for the northwest area, and it was sold to the City of Helena for a mere pittance after the 1932 earthquake. As recently as the 1980’s, all of the City of Helena offices were housed in the building, even though it was never intended to be used as an office building. The city leaders were studying what was to become of the building when the day came that they moved city offices elsewhere. A charette was held, and suggestions were gathered from civic leaders, representatives from the arts, businesses and other interested parties to determine what should be the future of this wonderful Helena landmark.
From that charette came the City Commission’s decision to appoint an 18 member Civic Center Advisory Board in 1972.
In the years of its existence, the Civic Center Board has raised and spent over two million dollars in renovation and repairs of the Civic Center building. Those fundraising efforts, along with a huge contribution from the City Commission and the City Manager through tax increment financing, and a generous helping of sponsorships, moral support, and appreciation from the public for the endeavor have made it possible for great strides to be made towards making the Civic Center a first rate cultural and arts facility. Since the creation of the Civic Center Board, over 100 of Helena’s most innovative and energetic citizens have served (18 at a time) to ensure that the building is used and remodeled to its full potential and is kept in good repair for the generations to come.
Eighteen dedicated board members and a Civic Center Staff of only six people keep the huge facility humming along. The board works from a continually revised Five Year Plan (the wish list of building improvements). The Board feels they have only gotten a good start on the potential of this facility, and their efforts will be rewarded as they see the building continue to thrive and be used for events that enrich the quality of life in the community of Helena. Meanwhile these energetic and innovative volunteers continue to hold Board sponsored events to raise monies for the betterment of the building.
The proceeds from board-sponsored fundraisers are used by the City of Helena Civic Center Advisory Board to improve the building. The fundraisers are two Christmas Gift Shows the first two weeks of November and the Feb Fest in February each year. Vendor information for these events may be found on this website.