Filed Under Deer Lodge

Thompson Photo Shop

Deer Lodge Central Business Historic District

Hiding behind its brick façade is one of the oldest standing buildings in the business district. Before the Northern Pacific arrived in 1883, Deer Lodge builders relied on locally available materials. They constructed walls from wood or rubble stone and roofs from sapling poles and sod or dirt. The owner of this early single-story building modernized it once the railroad made commercially manufactured materials widely available. By 1884, he had covered the dirt roof with shingles and the original stone walls and roof gable with a brick false front (still visible from the alley). More often constructed of wood than of brick, false fronts added style to essentially utilitarian structures. By 1889, the Deer Lodge Drug Company occupied the building, selling “pure drugs, paints, oils, medicines, blank books, school books, cutlery, etc.” Later owners expanded with rear additions and, sometime before the mid-1940s, once again updated the façade, installing new display windows. The building housed the post office in 1908, a grocery store between 1912 and 1929, and, after 1944, the Thompson Photo Shop.


Thompson Photo Shop
Thompson Photo Shop Thompson Photo Shop (PAc 91-51 Deer Lodge R16 F15). Front view of the building, facing east on Main Street near the corner of Main and Missouri Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: 1981


300 Main Street, Deer Lodge, Montana | Private


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Thompson Photo Shop,” Historic Montana, accessed April 14, 2024,