Sunburst Office

Great Falls West Bank Historic District

Since the mid-1930s, this hipped-roof building with exposed rafter tails and wide overhanging eaves has served as a private residence. However, its tranquil, domestic appearance masks its earlier history as the Sunburst Oil Refinery Office. Built in 1923 as part of a 3,000 barrel-per-day refinery, the one-story building is the only remaining evidence of the large-scale, industrial development. Sunburst chose to build on the West Bank to be near both the junction of two railroad lines and the Missouri River, which provided inexpensive access to the water essential to refining. Proximity to the Great Falls market and labor force was also a plus. The refinery processed crude from the Kevin-Sunburst Oil Field near Shelby, then Montana’s largest oil field, discovered in 1921. Sunburst shipped its first ten carloads of gasoline in June 1923. During the 1920s, the refinery distributed its product to gas stations throughout northern Montana and western North Dakota under the trade names Sunreco, Sunburst, and Powerized. The California Eastern Oil Company purchased the locally owned refinery in 1927, closing the plant in 1933.

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216 4th Ave Northwest, Great Falls, Montana ~ Private