The McCormick Neighborhood essentially developed from north to south, and from the exterior boundaries (Orange Street and the Railroad tracks as well as near the river and 6th), toward the center. Although some development did exist south of the Clark Fork River in 1890, intensive building didn’t occur before the turn of the twentieth century. The south side was said to have been essentially agricultural, as Delia Hagen reports in a Missoula County Cultural Resource Inventory:
Open lands south of the river provided space for recreation, agriculture, and a transportation corridor. Travelers as well as timber, minerals, and crops from the mountains and fertile farming fields of the Bitterroot Valley reached town via the Bitterroot Branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad, completed in 1889. The busy Bitterroot Wagon Road (today Stephens Avenue/Highway 93) ran southwest from the downtown business district, also linking the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys (Hagen, 2001).
Judge Hiram Knowles platted the Knowles Addition 1 in 1889. The lands that eventually became the Knowles Additions, however, changed hands several times before ever reaching Hiram Knowles, and transactions of these same tracts of land can be traced back to 1876 when Saron W. Blain patented the160 acres in Section 21. According to the Land Patent details, Saron Blain acquired the land by the authority of the State Grant-Agri College (12 Stat.503). The full 160 acres transferred hands several times before ending back in Saron Blain’s hands.
Knowles acquired the land from Blain in 1887. Knowles then acquired the remainder of section 21, “less the island,” which was in the middle of the Clark Fork River. This section of land was a sure bet for Judge Knowles, who appeared to purchase the entire section of land for $2200. By 1910, when the Milwaukee Railroad Station was completed in the Southside, a corner lot in the Knowles addition was selling for the same price that Hiram paid for the entire section of land. By the beginning of World War II, almost all of the lots in the McCormick Neighborhood were developed.