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

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

Oliver Building

 
 
Oliver Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2020
1. Oliver Building Marker
Inscription.  The homesteading boom was in full swing in 1910, but not all of Montana's newcomers came to farm. With the arrival of three transcontinental railroads, Billings became established as a regional hub of commerce. Many businesses saw opportunity in the region's expanding markets, and the city became the nation's sixth fastest- growing community. The Oliver Chilled Plow Works, which constructed this four-story, 37,500-square-foot business block, was one of many national corporations to build here. Among the largest farm implement dealers in the U.S., the plow works took its name from its founder, James Oliver, and his specially patented method to chill (or harden) plow points to reduce wear. H. B. Sill managed the farm implement and automobile dealership. A four-foot platform made it easy for the railroad to offload merchandise trackside, while the building's street-side façades featured large display windows to entice customers. Upper floors provided apartments as well as warehouse space; in 1920, tenants included a dressmaker, janitor, stenographer, laborer, and "telephone girl." A fire in May 1930 swept through the structure's top floors, causing
Oliver Building and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2020
2. Oliver Building and Marker
The marker is to the left of the entrance.
over $125,000 of damage. The Billings Hardware Company, which by then owned the building, hired architect Chandler Cohagen to oversee reconstruction. Cohagen is responsible for the Art Moderne style banding and geometric brickwork decorating the upper stories. A lasting example of Billings' rail-centered economy, the Oliver Building also reflects the growing popularity of the automobile. Stenciled on the northeast foundation is a sign reading "Glacier-to-Gulf," denoting the building as a landmark along a 1920s tourism "motorway" from Galveston, Texas, to Glacier National Park.
 
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNotable BuildingsRoads & Vehicles.
 
Location. 45° 46.901′ N, 108° 30.229′ W. Marker is in Billings, Montana, in Yellowstone County. Marker is at the intersection of Montana Avenue and North 27th Street, on the right when traveling east on Montana Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2702 Montana 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. The 2700 Block, Montana Avenue - circa 1909 (a few steps from this marker); The Gazette Building - circa 1935 (a few steps from this marker); The Billings Opera House - circa 1915
Oliver Building image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 15, 2020
3. Oliver Building
(within shouting distance of this marker); The Stockman Bar - circa 1945 (within shouting distance of this marker); Standing Outside the Stockman's Café (within shouting distance of this marker); The Selvidge/Babcock Building - circa 1925 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mills Durant Star Building (about 300 feet away); Billings Implement Building (about 300 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 38 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 30, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Mid-distance view of the building and marker. • Can you help?
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Mar. 1, 2021