Corruption, scandal, and controversy tainted all stages of planning and design of Montana’s Capitol building. – Ellen Baumler (Former Interpretive Historian at Montana Historical Society)
A design competition for the building was conducted in 1896. The commission selected a design by George R. Mann as the winner. In 1897, after it was found that the Commission was planning to scam money from the building project, it was disbanded and a second Capitol Commission was convened. The new Commission abandoned Mann’s plan as being too costly, and had a second design competition, won by Charles Emlen Bell and John Hackett Kent, of Bell and Kent of Council Bluffs, Iowa. In order to have their design built, Bell and Kent relocated their office to Helena.
While Mann’s building was never built in Montana, it was selected later as the basic design for the Arkansas State Capitol.