Filed Under Forsyth

Forsyth Main Street Historic District

Captain William Clark trekked through this area on his journey down the Yellowstone River in 1806. By the time General George Armstrong Custer passed by en route to the Little Bighorn in 1876, homesteads dotted the area. As the Northern Pacific Railroad pushed west in 1882, officials platted the town of Forsyth to serve its crews. They planned the town with a one-sided Main Street facing the railroad right-of-way. Growth at first was tentative with businesses clustered around the principal intersection at Main and Ninth Streets. Early urban development resulted from the efforts of Hiram Marcyes and Thomas Alexander, rival businessmen who controlled much of Forsyth’s early economy. As the railroad attracted a more diverse population that included doctors, lawyers, merchants, and service providers, Forsyth became a regional trade and social center. In 1901 Rosebud County was established with Forsyth as the county seat. Main Street expanded rapidly during the homestead boom of the 1910s. Although drought and depression in 1918 halted most development, Forsyth’s importance as a local trade center was undiminished. Today twenty-four buildings span the period 1888-1931, offering small-town ambiance. The Marcyes Building and the Alexander Hotel, built by the town’s two rivals, represent the early period. Several fine architect-designed blocks from the twentieth century also enrich the streetscape. The Renaissance Revival style Commercial Hotel (1903–6), the Beaux Arts style Wacholz Building (1917), and the Spanish Eclectic Roxy Theatre (1930) illustrate the vitality of this small but thriving community.

Click here to tour the district.

Images

800 Block of Main Street 800 Block of Main Street (PAc 91-51 Forsyth Roll08b F28). Overview of the 800 block of Main Street in Forsyth, facing northeast near the intersection of Main and North 8th Avenue. The Commercial Hotel is situated in the foreground of the photograph on the corner of Main and North 8th Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Feb. 1989
900 Block of Main Street 900 Block of Main Street (PAc 91-51 Forsyth Roll08b F29). Overview of the 900 block of Main Street in Forsyth, facing northeast near the intersection of Main and North 9th Avenue. The Merchant's Bank Block is the second building down the block and the Roxy Theatre is visible near the end of the block. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Feb. 1989
800 and 900 Block of Main Street 800 and 900 Block of Main Street (PAc 91-51 Forsyth Roll08b F30). Overview of the 800 block from the 900 block of Main Street in Forsyth, facing west near the intersection of Main and North 9th Avenue. The Dowling-Sweetser Block is visible as the second building from the corner of North 9th Avenue with the letters "Trading Post" across the front awning. Also, the Commercial Hotel is visible as the last building at the end of the block. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Feb. 1989
1000 Block of Main Street 1000 Block of Main Street (PAc 91-51 Forsyth Roll08b F31). Overview of the 1000 block of Main Street in Forsyth, facing northeast near the intersection of Main and North 10th Avenue on the 900 block of Main. The second building up the block from North 10th Avenue is the McCuiston Building and the building next door (3rd up) is the Masonic Temple to add perspective to the photograph. The building in the foreground with a piece visible to the left in the photograph is the Roxy Theatre near the end of the 900 block. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Feb. 1989
Forsyth Main Street Historic District Forsyth Main Street Historic District. All sorts of automobiles and trucks lined up on Main Street where there had just been wagons a short time before. Source: Montana Memory Project Creator: Walter Dean, Jr. Date: 1931
Forsyth Main Street Historic District Forsyth Main Street Historic District. View from west down Main Street with railroad to the right. Source: Montana Memory Project Creator: Walter Dean, Jr. Date: Sept. 1924

Location

Roughly bounded by Cedar Street, 11th Avenue, Main Street, and 8th Street, Forsyth, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Forsyth Main Street Historic District,” Historic Montana, accessed February 9, 2023, https://historicmt.org/items/show/1788.