Filed Under Great Falls

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.”

Images

Lee Forest Garage Lee Forest Garage (PAc 91-51 Great Falls R21 F21). Front to side view of the building, facing northwest on the corner of 1st Avenue North and 2nd Street North. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: 1983
Lee Forest Garage Lee Forest Garage (PAc 91-51 Great Falls R21 F22). Front view of the building, facing north on 1st Avenue North. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: 1983

Location

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

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Lee Forest Garage,” Historic Montana, accessed February 4, 2023, https://historicmt.org/items/show/184.