Stepping Into History, One Museum At A Time

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By: Michaela Shifley –

A photo courtesy of the Moss Mansion photo courtesy of the Moss Mansion

A photo courtesy of the Moss Mansion
photo courtesy of the Moss Mansion

Many hidden jewels lie within the Magic City, but none shines brighter than the historic Moss Mansion Museum that is nestled in the heart of downtown Billings. The elegant 23-room home, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenberg, a successful Australian architect, was constructed in 1903. It is filled to the brim with hidden treasures, including an authentic, autographed Mark Twain novel, an original Tiffany lamp, and even some of the original posters promoting the opening of Rocky Mountain College in the early 1940s.

Banker Preston Boyd Moss, a Missouri native, his wife, and six children, lived in the Moss home from the time that it was built until it was sold to the city of Billings in 1984. Moss was involved in many business ventures during his lifetime; he not only owned the first dial telephone company in the state, but also had a toothpaste factory, and was even one of the founding members of Rocky Mountain College.

Today, almost all Rocky students can find something to their taste at the Moss. The common business major may find it intriguing that Preston Moss, who financed the construction of the mansion, was a self-made entrepreneur whose investment methods and sharp business sense helped Billings’s enterprises to thrive in the first decade of the twentieth century. Those interested in technology may be interested to know that the Moss home was one of the first in the nation to have a dial telephone system, and students in the art program will be fascinated by the attention to decór detail and design that is prevalent throughout the entire home.

Furthermore, the Moss Mansion may be a great way for Rocky students to log some volunteer hours. Students can dedicate one or more hours a week doing a variety of museum-related work.

There are also holiday volunteer opportunities for college students – Halloween and Christmas are always busy and eventful seasons at the Moss – and volunteers are always needed to fill a variety of roles, including positions as actors and guides.

There are even work-study opportunities, if students find that they enjoy their work enough to get paid for it. The passionate speaker may love to be a tour guide and show guests through the home on tours, while the interested history scholar might like to explore inside the Moss Mansion’s archives. Those who love the outdoors could choose to dig in the flower gardens and help take care of the grounds.

Whether you’re visiting for the first time or for the tenth, the Moss Mansion Museum is definitely a fantastic place to explore. It is also a great place where Rocky students can spend their time learning about, and possibly contributing to, the important (and interesting!) historical facts, and making the community a little bit brighter while doing so.

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