Livingston’s disappearing history
Friday, June 15, 2018


On May 30 we had another case of wanton vandalism when someone destroyed the framework holding the glass blocks in front of Sax and Fryer Bookstore. These historic items were scheduled to be replaced in the sidewalk when the new walk was poured. It’s not going to happen now as the framework was damaged beyond repair and some of the “pavement lights” were stolen.

Am I the only one who cares?

When I say Livingston’s history is disappearing I have to think of the loss of the sidewalk vaults that the pavement lights illuminated. The building owners hired an engineering firm from Missoula which was involved with the restoration of the sidewalk vaults in Butte. The owners paid, if I recall, around $8,000 for the firm to send two engineers to Livingston, spend one day in nine vaults along Callender Street measuring and photographing them. They then submitted estimates to the owners that covered their best guess of the costs involved should the property owners decide to maintain the use of the vault under the new sidewalk or to fill them up. The city then hired another engineering firm to duplicate most of this work at almost four times the cost. The end result was the filling of the vaults and a one year delay in the entire downtown construction. Am I the only one that cares?

So the vaults are gone. The pavement lights are gone. The horse hitching ring is gone but will have a duplicate in place thanks to a donor. It remains to be seen if the remaining historic artifacts will be replaced in the new walks, the steel doors that once accessed the now gone vaults, the manhole covers that were used for delivery of coal, the stamps in the sidewalk that identified building owners and the date of construction, and the advertisement for Montana Sport Cigars. All of that is history that made up part of Livingston over 100 years ago.

But we have pictures of these items to show our grandchildren how it used to be back in the old days when they ask. Somehow it’s not the same. But am I the only one who cares?

Jack Luther