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New Book Traces Life, Work of Montana Architect

The Montana Museum of Art & Culture, in partnership with The University of Montana Press, announces the publication of the book “The Original Man: The Life and Work of Montana Architect A.J. Gibson” by Hipólito Rafael Chacón, Ph.D.

Chacón, a UM professor of art history and art criticism, worked with the University’s Mansfield Library K. Ross Toole Archives and the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula to create the first complete biography of Albert John Gibson, Missoula County’s best-known and most beloved architect.

Photographs from the museum and architectural drawings from the library’s archives, as well as other materials from public and private collections, have been brought together for a rich portrayal of Gibson’s life and his impact on Montana towns.

The book’s catalog of Gibson’s buildings includes recent discoveries and materials from unpublished archival material, documents, drawings and photographs from the architect’s life.

Gibson’s legacy and work have endured for more than a century and include the first five buildings on the UM campus in Missoula, the Daly Mansion near Hamilton, and the Ravalli County and Missoula County courthouses.

His meteoric rise as an architect and builder in the 1890s was remarkable, given that he had no professional training in the field. A self-made individual, he designed and built a broad range of buildings, from modest, private homes to grand residences and significant civic structures. 

Gibson’s other great passion was automobile travel. He and his wife, Maud, set many records and earned a reputation as Montana automotive pioneers. Their lives ended tragically in an automobile accident on New Year’s Eve 1927.

 “The Original Man” is available for purchase at The Bookstore at UM, the Montana Museum of Art & Culture’s Meloy and Paxson galleries located in UM’s Performing Arts and Radio-Television Center, or by calling 406-243-2019 or e-mailing museum@umontana.edu.