T. C. Power’s stage line established a stop in 1883 where the town of Lavina was born. In 1907, the Milwaukee Road came through attracting new businesses, among them the Slayton Mercantile Co., established in 1908 by Daniel Webster Slayton. A prominent sheep rancher, county commissioner, and later state senator, Slayton also founded a sheep shearing business and the First Bank of Lavina. The town thrived as an agricultural and economic center, but in June of 1910, Slayton’s wood-frame mercantile burned to the ground. Although the $60,000 business was insured for only one-third its value, Slayton immediately rebuilt a larger, fireproof building. F. W. Handel supplied the exterior brick and the inner layer was fired in a kiln near the Musselshell River. The present two-story mercantile, built in the classic Western commercial style, opened for business in the fall of 1910. Slayton served as postmaster and the store was central to the local community, supplying everything from mail to groceries, school supplies, and horse tack and, after 1916, Ford automobiles, farm implements, and Titan tractors. Slayton, instrumental in the creation of Musselshell County in 1910, was active throughout his life in politics, ranching, and business affairs. He retained interest in the mercantile until his death in 1927. Today the landmark store, still a local gathering place, is a grand example of the Western commercial style of architecture. Its pressed tin ceiling, rolling oak ladders, pot bellied stove and other original features preserve the period ambience of Montana’s homestead era.

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23 Main Street, Lavina, Montana ~ Private