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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Chester in Liberty County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

First State Bank of Chester

 
 
First State Bank of Chester Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 22, 2020
1. First State Bank of Chester Marker
Inscription.  The Great Northern Railway spread its tracks along the windswept Montana Hi-Line in the 1890s and the settlement of Chester emerged, named for the first telegraph operator’s Pennsylvania hometown. The rail line was straightened in 1907 and Chester picked up and moved a quarter mile from its original site to the present location. C. M. Atkins founded the First State Bank of Chester in 1909 and this handsome brick building, by far the most extravagant in town at the time, was completed in 1910. The bank served the prosperous agricultural community during the homestead boom. Like other banks across Montana, First State fell upon hard times as crops failed and homesteaders moved on. The bank closed in 1920, but the building continued to serve the community in a myriad of other ways. Over the years it was a residence, rooming house, bakery, pool hall, barbershop, and hospital, where a former lieutenant governor, Allen Kolstad, was born. Although safety dictated the removal of a second-story turret in the 1950s, Ionic columns, swan’s neck brackets, and graceful curved steps remain to frame the canted entrance. The original oak entry doors, pressed
First State Bank of Chester and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 22, 2020
2. First State Bank of Chester and Marker
The marker is at the corner of the building.
metal ceilings, woodwork, and the bank vault are still in place. Representative of small-town banks that once flourished across Montana, the landmark building is a community centerpiece and central to the town’s history. Students of Chester’s graduating class of 1997 researched and prepared the nomination for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in conjunction with the Montana Heritage Project.
 
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Montana National Register Sign Program series list.
 
Location. 48° 30.817′ N, 110° 57.884′ W. Marker is in Chester, Montana, in Liberty County. Marker is at the intersection of 1st Street East and Washington Avenue (U.S. 2), on the left when traveling north on 1st Street East. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10 1st Street East, Chester MT 59522, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Pleistocene Wonderland (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Sweet Grass Hills (approx. 5.3 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  First State Bank of Chester -- Wikipedia
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. Droughts in the lat(e) 1910s reversed the fortunes of many of these farmers, however, and like many others across the state the bank closed in 1920. (Submitted on December 2, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 2, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 31 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 2, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 8, 2021