Victor Ario Building #2 / Belmont Hotel

Great Falls Central Business Historic District

A small wooden dwelling stood on this site in 1888. As late as 1900 the street was still relatively undeveloped, with the exception of a large brick business block at the corner of South Third. Between 1910 and 1920, however, over thirty business blocks were constructed downtown, including this three-story brick building owned by flour and feed merchant Richard Graham. The elaborate terra-cotta cornice, stepped gable parapet, and a terra-cotta block displaying the date, A.D. 1913, reflect Graham’s evident pride in his contribution to Great Falls’ growth. The two-part commercial building provided retail space on the first floor and hotel accommodations on the upper stories. Nationally known saddlemaker Victor Ario had his shop here from 1914 through 1931. Ario adapted to the motorized era by offering “automobile top repairing” in addition to more traditional forms of leatherwork. In 1930, twenty-six lodgers lived upstairs at the Belmont Hotel. Evidence of other businesses includes the ghost sign on the east wall advertising Theodore Coy Furniture, “Pay Cash and Save One Half.”

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308 - 310 1st Avenue South, Great Falls, Montana ~ Private