The Northwest Montana Historical Society, a non-profit organization, operates the Northwest Montana History Museum for the benefit of the Flathead Valley community.

More than 60 volunteers, including a diverse and able board of directors, assist one full-time and five part-time staff to keep the Museum operating smoothly.

Our Mission

The Northwest Montana Historical Society is dedicated to the cultural and educational enrichment of the community through the acquisition, preservation, and display of material related to local history, and to the involvement of the public through research, community events, and volunteer opportunities.

Central School Building right after construction.
Central School Building today. Photo Credit: Paul Spade

Our History

The building that houses our museum is a sturdy brick and stone structure, one of the few remaining examples of classic Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, with most of its original hardwood floors, wainscoting, and tin-plate ceilings still in place.

The building was boarded-up and threatened with demolition in 1991, but the City of Kalispell renovated the structure at a cost of $2.4 million dollars, and since late 1999, has leased it to the Northwest Montana Historical Society for exhibits, performances, and community meetings.

We house the most extensive local history museum in Northwest Montana.

Our Board

Since the very beginning, the Northwest Montana Historical Society (like the Flathead Historical Society before it) has been led and governed by a team of dedicated community volunteers.

Past presidents of the NWMTHS include Delores Swanburg (1996-98), Cliff Collins (1999), Sue Dailey (2000-02), Joann Schadewitz (03-05), Robert O’Neil (06-09), and Richard Siderius (2010-12).

Board of Directors

President: Laurie Happ
Vice President: Alex Berry
Secretary: Jim Atkinson
Treasurer: Margaret LeKander

Senior Advisory Directors

Betty Jo Malone
Rick Riley
Bob O'Neil
Linda Robbin

Board Officers

Elaine Graber
Jim Hollensteiner
Arne Boveng
Brian Braunberger
Sally Hash-Savage
Jane Renfrow
Bob Lopp
Bob Brown
Donna Danz

President Emeritus

Richard Siderius

Our Staff

Jacob Thomas

Executive Director

Jacob Thomas came to Montana in 2008 as a young man and loved it so much that he spent the next decade-plus trying to find a way to come back. He has a MA in Museum Studies from Appalachian State University, and his career has taken him to Kentucky, Texas, and Michigan before bringing him back to Big Sky Country. He enjoys long walks in the woods and a cold brewski after a hard day's work.

Jen Roche

Museum Manager

Jen is a Whitefish native with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Montana. With a love of Montana history from an early age, Jen was drawn to working at the NWMTHS to become part of our community here in Northwest Montana, and in her free time enjoys camping, hiking, and rafting.

Boyd Holt


Boyd Holt is originally from Fort Worth, Texas. He lived there until his military days, which began in our bicentennial year, 1976. After eight years of service, he moved to California; after another move to Nevada, he relocated permanently to Big Sky Country.

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