WWI had little economic effect on Missoula other than to increase demand for agricultural products and to make labor more expensive. Missoula continued a slow but steady growth during the teens and the twenties. Primarily a trade center that reached out for a 150-mile radius, the railroad shops, the university, lumber and flourmills and the presence of the Forest Service and other governmental agencies diversified the city’s economy. Missoula was never a manufacturing center, with the exception of a brief experiment with a sugar beet factory from 1915 to 1918.
The WWI years and after saw a slowdown in the economy for a time, but neighborhoods south of the river saw steady growth. The University area neighborhood continued to spread from the campus to the west and south, filling in the lots from the Clark Fork River, to McLeod and from Arthur at the University’s edge, to Higgins Avenue. The popularity of large California style bungalows and more diminutive Craftsmen bungalows provided a counterpoint for the huge mansions along Gerald Avenue and the towering Queen Anne style houses along the more northern streets of the University area neighborhood. A similar development of vacant lots occurred to the west of the University neighborhood across Higgins and in other areas of the city. Building space in the downtown was nearly nonexistent, so there was little activity as far as large-scale commercial construction.