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

Billings in Yellowstone County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

L and L Building

 
 
L and L Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2020
1. L and L Building Marker
Inscription.  In 1884, two years after the Northern Pacific founded the town of Billings, a one-story wooden grocery store stood on this site. Twelve years later, the corner of Minnesota and Twenty-seventh boasted one of the South Side's first brick buildings. The exuberant sheet-metal cornice and cast-iron storefront, manufactured in Minneapolis, mark the building as a product of the railroad era. Such large architectural elements could only be shipped by train. Other architectural decoration includes rough-cut sandstone sills and segmented brick arches with sandstone keystones accenting the windows. As was typical of the era, the rear of the building and the east wall (designed to abut a neighboring building) are much plainer than the building's public faces. In 1896, Chinese immigrant Sam Lee purchased the two-story brick business block, where he opened a restaurant with his brother Yee. They called the restaurant L and L for Lee and Lee. By 1900, the Lees had converted the restaurant into a liquor and cigar store. Upstairs they offered "nicely furnished rooms," advertising their lodging house as "first class ... good as a bank." Residents of the integrated
L and L Building and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2020
2. L and L Building and Marker
The marker is on the side of the building near the light pole.
lodging house included both Lee brothers, four other Chinese men (two waiters, a dishwasher, and a cook), a white stockman from Texas, and a white waitress from California. Sam Lee owned several other buildings in the area, which became known as China Alley. During Prohibition, the alley became a center of bootlegging and gained a reputation for crime. However, tales of secret tunnels and opium dens may owe more to fantasy than reality.
 
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Asian AmericansNotable Buildings.
 
Location. 45° 46.862′ N, 108° 30.159′ W. Marker is in Billings, Montana, in Yellowstone County. Marker is at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and South 27th Street, on the right when traveling east on Minnesota Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2634 Minnesota Avenue, Billings MT 59101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Price Motor Sales (within shouting distance of this marker); Swift and Company Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Crystal Saloon (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Yukon Bar (about 300 feet away); Armour Cold Storage (about 400 feet away); Oliver Building
L and L Building image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2020
3. L and L Building
(about 400 feet away); Mills Durant Star Building (about 400 feet away); Billings Old Town Historic District (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Billings.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 30, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 30, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 30, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 4, 2021