407 West Main

Hamilton Commercial Historic District

The owner of the Western News built this false-front building to house its newspaper office and print shop in 1895. Its editor, Miles Romney, Sr., was a strong Democrat and advocate for progressive reform; the Western News became known for its independence during a time when the Anaconda Company controlled most of the state’s newspapers. By 1902, the Western News had moved its operation to South Second Street, and a plumbing shop occupied this space by 1909. Today this is the last well-preserved false-front building in Hamilton, but wooden storefronts like this one once dominated the town’s streetscape. Lumber was plentiful in this mill town, and false fronts not only made buildings appear larger and grander than they actually were, but they also added a touch of style to what were essentially utilitarian structures. Psychologically, false fronts visually assured people that they lived in a civilized and secure place—no matter how isolated it actually was. Quick and inexpensive to erect, these buildings are icons of the western frontier.



407 West Main Street, Hamiliton, Montana ~ Private