Gans and Klein

Fort Benton Historic District

When Frank Coombs teamed up with architect Thomas Tweedy for the construction of the Grand Union Hotel across the street, they and J. R. Wilton also built this rather unpretentious commercial building. Begun in June and completed in September of 1881, it was constructed for the manufacturing, wholesale, and retail firm of Gans and Klein. This highly successful San Francisco and New York-based firm dealing in “fine clothing and men’s furnishing goods” also had stores in Helena and Butte. The Fort Benton branch operated here until it closed in 1890. By 1902, the building housed a stationery and cigar store. It was a furniture store in 1910, and in the 1930s, a mortuary. Most old-timers, however, remember this corner as the longtime home of the local VFW Legion Club. Although the locally made brick is now covered in stucco, the building is a classic example of western commercial architecture that retains its original configuration. Conversion to a banking facility in 1996 illustrates the adaptability of Fort Benton’s historic resources.

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1304 Front Street, Fort Benton, Montana ~ Private