Paris Gibson Square, one of Great Falls' oldest and most beloved landmarks, has served as a center for learning and growth for more than 100 years. The magnificent sandstone structure was completed in 1896, and served for 34 years as Central High School and for 45 years as Paris Gibson Junior High, before closing its doors in 1975.
In 1977, community volunteers renovated and reopened the historic building as Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. Since that time, The Square has provided a dynamic program of exhibitions, classes, lectures, tours, and performances designed to nurture the region's creative spirit.
Located on the east edge of town between Central Avenue and First Avenue North, Paris Gibson Square was the most distinctive building in Great Falls at the end of the 19thcentury. Built in 1895 as the city's first high school, it represents both the visionary and pragmatic aspects of the citizens of a town merely a decade old. Its crowning glory, a four-faced clock tower almost as high as the building itself, easily gave it visual distinction as it towered above everything on the surrounding plains. The emphasis on time was a symbol not only for urban industrialization where accurate and consistent time became essential for the interaction of commerce, but also a suggestion for the youth attending the school that their time be wisely spent in learning. Through the choice of its "cathedral-like" style, the three-storied structure emphatically stated its ideological purpose as a monument to education. Described as a modified Norman style in the National Historic Register, it is, in fact, a version of a popular turn-of-the-century Romanesque style for public buildings made famous by Boston architect H.H. Richardson.
Category: Museums - Arts