In 1903, entrepreneur Preston Boyd Moss (better known as “P.B.”) built the Moss Mansion, greatly influencing the culture of Billings, Montana. Mr. Moss participated in at least 60 businesses, with many still in existence today. His interests included telephone exchanges, agriculture, banking, publishing, manufacturing, civic organizations, and education. The Moss family owned and occupied this single-family home for over 80 years - until 1984 when Melville Moss, one of P. B.'s daughters, passed away at age 84 while making arrangements for it's future as an historic museum.
Designed by New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, designer of the original Waldorf Astoria and Plaza Hotels, the mansion showcases inspired architecture, unrivaled craftsmanship and exquisite décor. The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has graced the silver screen on several occasions as the perfect site for period films such as Son of the Morning Star and Return to Lonesome Dove.
Melville Moss remained in the home throughout her life, and the house and its original fixtures remain intact. Modern day visitors marvel at the home’s amenities which include heated indoor plumbing on each floor and a call button system for the servants among other impressive feats of technology for the period. Work continues to interpret personal and business records that give insight to early Billings development, but also to interpret the inner workings of the family through letters shared among its members.
The mission of the Billings Preservation Society, symbolized by the Moss Mansion, is to inspire, to educate and to facilitate historic and cultural preservation activities for our community and for its future generations. The Billings Preservation Society is an independent non-profit, tax-exempt organization which administers, operates, and maintains the Moss Mansion Historic House Museum. In 1986, the Billings Preservation Society obtained possession of the Moss home through a lease agreement with the family and separate option agreement. Per the family’s request, the house has been available to the public and maintained to meet the requirements of the National Historic Home Register. Through the Billings Preservation Society, the Moss Mansion has been included as a chapter in the book Great American Homes, published by Reader’s Digest; on the A&E Network program America’s Castles: The Great Frontier; and in the National Geographic Guide to America’s Great Houses.
The Moss Mansion welcomes thousands of visitors each year to enjoy a guided, self-guided or group tour, to explore the gardens and gift shop, and to experience a variety of signature community events. Guided and self-guided tours run year round, with extended summer hours and brief seasonal closings in November and January each year. The venue is also available for private functions and provides the location for various cultural events and fundraisers each year. Proceeds from these activities and donations sustain the museum and its endowment trust.