HELENA – The Montana Democratic Party has bought an old Helena mansion converted into law offices for its headquarters to replace the crowded offices it now rents.

Chairman Bob Ream said the party is paying $250,000 for the building at 303 N. Ewing, that has housed the law firm of Buxbaum, Dix and Daue. The Democrats made a down payment of one-third of the building’s cost and took out a mortgage for the rest. The Democrats will launch a capital campaign to lower or eliminate mortgage payments, he said.

“We shopped all over town, and this was the best deal,” Ream said. “It will pay for itself.”

Democrats plan to move into the building, which is across the street from the Old Governor’s Mansion, in mid-March. It was built around 1906 and is featured in a book on Helena’s historic homes by Jean Baucus, mother of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.

The building, on the market for nearly nine months, was first listed at $325,000 and then dropped to $300,000. Ream said the party offered $250,000, which was accepted.

Ream said the rent on the Democrat’s headquarters at the Steamboat Block, which is on Helena Avenue, was going to increase from $1,200 to $1,800 a month. The party leased space there for more than 20 years.

“We’re cramped there,” Ream said.

The Democrats have seven full-time employees, plus Ream, a retired professor who is not a paid employee but can usually be reached at the headquarters, crammed into the warren of offices there. In addition, he said, the party soon will be hiring a campaign director.

Ream said the new building has 3,000 square feet both on the first and second floors, including some conference rooms that can be used for meetings.

“It makes sense to buy,” Ream said. “It’s in very good shape.”

Before moving in, the party will put in a handicapped bathroom and handicapped access ramp and install a computer and phone network.

The Montana Republican Party, meanwhile, continues to rent a storefront office building near from the railroad depot. It has rented that space in Helena’s Sixth Ward at least for the past 25 years.

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