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Lewistown Courthouse Historic District - Lewistown, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 47° 03.746 W 109° 25.861
12T E 619142 N 5213296
Quick Description: While Fergus County was created in 1885 with Lewistown as its seat, a real courthouse wasn't built until 1907, opening for business in mid February of 1909.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 5/14/2019 5:57:39 PM
Waymark Code: WM10JB3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:
The first district court in Fergus County was held on April 4th, 1887 in the old jail, a small frame jailhouse where the present courthouse now stands. The first term of Court was held in a two story frame building located on the south bank of Spring Creek near the bridge, owned by Charles Richards. The cornerstone for the Fergus County Courthouse was laid on August 25, 1907, following a six month delay caused by an inability to design within preset cost constraints.

By this time the town was growing rapidly and an upscale residential community had already grown up around the courthouse site, with many of the businessmen and professionals of Lewistown having already built their residences in the surrounding blocks. The Carnegie Library had been built across the street, with the Junior High School to follow nearby in 1921. In fact, the Fergus County Courthouse is one of the newer buildings in the historic District.

Roughly bounded by Washington Street, 6th Avenue, Main and Broadway Streets, the Lewistown Courthouse Historic District covers about 6 city blocks of mostly residential area, with just a few business, mostly in non-contributing structures. The courthouse itself occupies a well landscaped block on the north side of Main Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.


In 1879, Metis—people of French and Chippewa-Cree descent—homesteaded in this area, near the army’s Camp Lewis. Many street names memorialize these settlers, who included Francis A. Janeaux and Paul Morase. But open range cattle ranching, nearby gold discoveries, and the growth of the sheep industry quickly made Lewistown a regional supply center. Fergus County was created in 1885 with Lewistown as its seat. The district reflects the maturing of the town as a governmental and business center. C. E. Bell, one of the Montana Capitol’s architects, designed the 1904 stone jail. The elegant stone Carnegie library was built in 1905. The brick Fergus County Courthouse followed in 1907. The Lewistown Art Center is housed in what was once the Charles Lehman Bunkhouse. Lewistown’s first junior high school, built in 1921, is one of the later civic buildings in the district. Residences important for their historical associations and distinct designs cluster around these public buildings. Attorney William Blackford’s residence was built with materials such as finely milled lumber brought in on trains. The two David Hilger residences, one moved here from Fort Maginnis before 1900 and the other built of brick in 1913, recall the sheep rancher who participated in many important community projects.
From the NRHP plaque near the courthouse

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Courthouse Courthouse
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Carnegie Library Carnegie Library
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Hilger Residence Lehman Bunkhouse
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Crowley Residence Lehman Residence

Street address:
712 West Main Street
Lewistown, MT USA

County / Borough / Parish: Fergus County

Year listed: 1985

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Exploration/Settlement, Politics/Government, Architecture, Commerce, Agriculture

Periods of significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924, 1875-1899

Historic function: Domestic, Government - City Hall, Multiple Dwelling, Single Dwelling

Current function: Domestic, Government - City Hall, Multiple Dwelling, Single Dwelling

Privately owned?: no

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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