Front Entrance Facing Division Street (above & below)
Mr. and Mrs. Moss moved to Billings where, earlier in a letter to his wife, P.B. Moss had written, "There is more happening at midnight than at noon in Paris Missouri.”
Side Entrance Facing Yellowstone Avenue
Solarium, southwest corner (above & below)
Rear Entrance & Exterior Stairs to Basement (bottom)
The Moss Mansion is number 82003181 on the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places. Set on 2 acres at 914 Division Street, between Yellowstone and Clark Avenues in Billings, Yellowstone County, Montana on a piece of prime city real estate, the 3 story plus basement, 28 room house was designed by New York architect, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. Completed in 1903 at a cost of $105,000 for the Moss Family, entrepreneur Preston Boyd and Martha Moss, their 6 children and 3 servants, it was occupied by the family until the youngest daughter, Melville Moss, died in 1984. Those are the numbers but the most important fact is that a wise community then acquired the property to preserve an intact artifact of their history and I, among many, would like to thank them for their foresight.
Historic photo courtesy of The Western Heritage Center. Billings, Mt.
Preston Boyd "P.B." Moss
If you follow Travel Gumbo, you may have noticed that, along with gardens, visits to historic houses are a primary motivation for my travels. Most of these are outside the United States as there are a great deal more of them in countries with longer histories than our own. So I’m especially pleased when I can visit our own history in the form of a beautiful building. I had that opportunity when my trip to Yellowstone ended in Billings.
Visitors are conducted through 3 levels of the Moss family home on guided tours that begin in the basement, Tuesdays through Sundays. We, and several others, gathered at the appointed time and place below stairs and our tour began. Now, several months later, I confess I remember little about the tour except the youth and enthusiasm of our guide. That could be as a result of various factors but I’ll write it off to my immersion in the job of taking pictures in the low light, required for preservation of the collection. I've supplemented mine with “borrowed” photos showing areas of the house not equipped with reflective surfaces that made a few hand-held photos possible. But since I do love historic plumbing, all was not lost.
The City of Billings, the largest in Montana with a 2015 estimate of 110,000 citizens, has a substantial feel, the downtown area tidy with its older buildings well maintained and many re-purposed, rather than torn down and replaced by high-rises. It retains its satisfying “human scale” and feels good to drive through and walk around.
The Moss Mansion is located on busy Division Street, the appropriately named dividing line between a lovely established residential neighborhood and downtown. If ever you find yourself in the area I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Billings and it’s treasure, the Moss Mansion.
The following Moss Mansion interiors are courtesy of visitmt.com.
Before Billings, PortMoresby's Yellowstone.
Find more of PortMoresby's contributions here.