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Lehman Bunkhouse - Lewistown, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 47° 03.732 W 109° 25.935
12T E 619049 N 5213269
Quick Description: Once upon a time this was two individual and unrelated buildings. For 39 years it was an art centre.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 5/7/2019 1:36:11 PM
Waymark Code: WM10H25
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member ZenPanda
Views: 0

Long Description:
Here we have two buildings, one a stone structure built on this site as a rooming house in the 1890s and enlarged in 1908, the other a two storey, wood framed carriage house. The stone building was enlarged by the addition of the extension at the rear. The carriage house, built at the turn of the twentieth century, was scheduled for demolition when rescued to become part of the present structure.

In 1970 the Lewistown branch of the Montana Institute for the Arts purchased the stone building and repurposed it as the Lewistown Art Center. In 1977, in need of expansion, the art centre rescued the old carriage house of local district judge Rudolph Von Tobel and had it moved to this site and placed next to the stone building. The art centre remained in the building(s) until being relocated to the corner of Main Street and 4th Avenue in 2009, where it can still be found today.

With no external signage, today the building appears to have been again repurposed to become a private residence.


Two distinct buildings of different origins but with a shared purpose rest companionably side by side on this site today. Pioneer merchant Charles Lehman constructed the handsome stone segment in the 1890s as a rooming house for his unmarried male employees. By 1908, a rubblestone addition had doubled the size of the original cut stone building. The residence also served rural students who boarded in town while attending the county high school. The old Lehman property was purchased by the Lewistown branch of the Montana Institute for the Arts in 1970. When the new art center needed additional space, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century two-story frame building was literally rescued from the bulldozer and moved here in 1977. Large doors reveal its former function as the carriage house of local district judge Rudolph Von Tobel. The few exterior alterations, including beautiful stained glass from St. Joseph’s Hospital incorporated into a window and a main entry linking the two buildings together, have little altered the original appearances. The complex now serves the community as an art center and as an inspirational model of adaptive reuse.
From the NRHP plaque at the building
Lehman Bunkhouse
This cultural center is a "combination" of structures: a low rectangular stone structure originally used as a residence that appears to have been built in two phases, and a gable roof carriage house that has been moved in to the southwest of the stone structure and. connected to it. Neither mass particularly dominates the other; they coexist side by side. The main entrance to the facility is in the interstice between the two building types.

This property is significant because of its association with Charles F. W. Lehman, one of the leading pioneer merchants of Lewistown. Mr. Lehman was engaged in stone contracting prior to coming to Lewistown in 1893, and it is likely he built the stone Charles Lehman & Co. Building on Main Street (now gone) and the "Bunkhouse".

The rubble stone "Bunkhouse" began life simply as a rooming house for the unmarried male clerks and drivers for the Charles Lehman Co. Doubled in size by 1908, it also served as housing for many students who were unable to make the trip to Fergus County High School on a daily basis from remote rural areas of the large county. The "Bunkhouse" remained in the Lehman family's possession until 1970, when it was purchased by the Lewistown branch of the Montana Institute of the Arts for use as a community art center.

In 1977, the center, in need of additional space, rescued the von Tobel carriage house from the bulldozer and moved it to the art center site. The carriage house, built around 1900 on the corner of Third Avenue and Water Street, was then rehabilitated for use as additional gallery and office space.
From the NRHP Architecture Inventory Form, Site 045

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