Filed Under Lavina

Lavina State Bank

The arrival of the Milwaukee Railroad in 1908 established Lavina as an important regional center. D. W. Slayton’s Mercantile and L. C. Lehfeldt’s Adams Hotel were the cornerstone businesses of the bustling community. Slayton and Lehfeldt, along with Arthur C. Bayers, H. J. Ries, and L. Sandsmark, established a bank to serve the growing region. This two-story frame building, built in 1908, suited the new financial institution. In April of 1909, the bank moved its furniture in, installed the safe, and distributed shares. Chartered in 1911, the bank opened a branch in Ryegate and through the first half of the prosperous 1910s aided homesteaders and ranchers. When the first drought descended on the region in 1918, the bank pulled most homesteaders through. Slayton noted in his diary that the bank “charged off a lot of bad notes.” As drought and depression took its toll, the bank—like hundreds of others across Montana—closed in 1923. The sturdy two-story building, however, continued to serve as the post office. As a natural social center, it became the heart of the community where neighbor met neighbor. In 1938, the Freemasons purchased the building and added onto the back, converting the upstairs space to accommodate their lodge meetings. Lavina Lodge #107, founded in 1916, met on the second floor, and, until 1960, the post office occupied the storefront. The Ryegate Temple Lodge #101 and Lavina Lodge #107 combined in 1995 to form Lavina-Temple Lodge #101, prompting careful restoration of this community treasure. The building today, crisp and clean on the streetscape, evokes the ambiance of another era.

Images

Lavina State Bank
Lavina State Bank Lavina State Bank. Front to side view of the building, facing west on the corner of Main Street and 1st Avenue West. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown
Lavina State Bank
Lavina State Bank Lavina State Bank. Front view of the building, facing west on Main Street near the corner of Main and 1st Avenue West to the south of the Slayton Mercantile Co. building. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown
Lavina State Bank
Lavina State Bank Lavina State Bank. Side view of the building, facing southeast on 1st Avenue West near Main Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown

Location

101 Main Street, Lavina, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Lavina State Bank,” Historic Montana, accessed July 19, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/618.