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

Forsyth in Rosebud County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

Blue Front Rooming House

Blue Front Rooming House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 13, 2020
1. Blue Front Rooming House Marker
Inscription.  The Northern Pacific Railroad was the lifeblood of many small Montana towns like Forsyth, which was founded in 1882 to serve as an operations base for rail crews. Since unmarried men filled most railroad positions, towns like Forsyth had need of inexpensive, basic housing facilities. Originally the railroad provided housing for its Forsyth workers, but when the “section house” burned in 1902, the railroad did not replace it. Gustaf “Gus” Swanland built this rooming house in 1912 to fill a need for housing. He lived here himself along with his single tenants, many of whom were Northern Pacific employees. Although advertised as the Swanland Hotel, the building was commonly known as the “Blue Front” because of its bright blue paint. Boarding houses were usually residential in appearance but Swanland’s narrow lot and location in the business district dictated a more commercial look. A 1905 city ordinance required fire-resistant brick construction, and, like its neighbors, the vernacular Italianate style façade was enhanced with a layer of light-colored brick veneer. A bracketed wooden cornice and pediment soften
Blue Front Rooming House and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 13, 2020
2. Blue Front Rooming House and Marker
the rather austere, utilitarian image. The Blue Front’s interior, which survives almost intact, provides a fascinating glimpse into turn-of-the-twentieth-century accommodations. Both stories reflect typical boardinghouse living arrangements with small, wall-papered rooms opening onto a central hallway. The Spartan sleeping room had little space, not even closets, but the Blue Front’s common kitchen, parlor, and dining room offered a more homelike atmosphere.
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Buildings. In addition, it is included in the Montana National Register Sign Program series list.
Location. 46° 16.022′ N, 106° 40.541′ W. Marker is in Forsyth, Montana, in Rosebud County. Marker is on Main Street near 12th Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1187 Main Street, Forsyth MT 59327, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Forsyth, MT (within shouting distance of this marker); Rosebud County Courthouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Presbyterian Church and Manse (about 300 feet away); Wilson Residence (about 500 feet away); Masonic Temple (about
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500 feet away); Thomas Alexander, 1856-1918 (about 500 feet away); Forsyth Residential Historic District (about 500 feet away); McCuistion Residence (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Forsyth.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 14, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 30 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 14, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Feb. 25, 2021