The potential demolition of the Missoula Mercantile building is receiving criticism from a host of concerned community members. Former Historic Preservation Society Board Member Nikki Manning recently decided to resign and is now working with a group called “Save the Merc.” Manning says the historic preservation society is being held back from doing its job.

“It wasn’t because I wanted to resign so that I could advocate for saving the merc specifically,” said Manning. “I just felt that as a board member, I could not work with out current historic preservation officer or the city development services staff because we are not being allowed to do our job and that is advocate for historic preservation.”

Manning says the Mercantile building has great historical importance to the city of Missoula.

“It was the beginning of this town,” Manning said. “The saw mill was the real beginning, but the mercantile existed because of the mill. Without the Mercantile I don’t think this town would actually even be here. It brought the rail road through town and then supplied the rail road. It was the main supply between Fort Benton and Walla Walla Washington. It was the biggest department store in that area.”

Manning and others are trying to rally support to save the Merc and will unveil some of those plans on Thursday.