Lee Forest Garage

Great Falls Central Business Historic District

Winged automobile wheels frame the word “Garage” above this building’s center bay. Two other terra cotta panels, reading “Lee Forest” and “Machinists,” offer additional clues to the building’s original owner and use. Ford distributor Lee Forest hired architect George Shanley in 1916 to design a two-story addition to what had been a one-story garage. Three years earlier, Ford had revolutionized the auto industry with the introduction of the assembly line. Business boomed for distributors like Forest, who sold five hundred cars in the first quarter of 1916 alone. The dramatic increase in Forest’s business made the $20,000 addition necessary. The unusual design included a rear elevator to bring cars to the third-floor repair shop or second-floor showroom. The second floor also included a parking garage, which held up to 150 cars. The concept was new enough that the newspaper called the parking garage “storage ... for patron cars and for transient cars ... and for machines that Mr. Forest keeps for hire or for automobile livery service.”

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119 1st Avenue North, Great Falls, Montana ~ Private