Adams'/Strain's Department Store
Anaconda Commercial Historic District
Contractor A. M. Walker constructed this simple one-story brick commercial block for department store owner S. C. Adams in 1902. Though Adams did not pay to embellish the exterior of the building, he did spend lavishly on advertising and events. His window displays included oriental rugs and mannequins, and on opening day crowds of gawkers waited outside for the store to open. Inside, a band surrounded by palm trees played in the center of the store, and the cashiers served punch. To drum up business in 1903, Adams staged an expensive campaign to sell union clothing by distributing 1,800 union-made cigars and store flyers to men at the smelter. The stunt worked, but Adams sold the store in 1905 to open a Butte store. Soon after, Adams declared bankruptcy. By 1906, department store giants, the Strain Brothers, moved their Anaconda store here. Strain’s operated large stores in Great Falls, Billings, and Helena with the motto “You Can Always Do Better at the Big Store.” Strain’s closed in 1933 but the building continued to house various department stores, including Montgomery Ward and Schwartz’s.