The arrival of the Milwaukee railroad in 1907 and the homesteaders who followed created new business opportunities for Forsyth, which grew in population from 726 people in 1904 to 1,398 in 1910. Recognizing the town’s potential, Mayor J. W. Sweetser purchased this tract of land from early Forsyth pioneer Hiram Marcyes in 1907. With financial backing from W. E. Dowlin, he erected this two-story brick business block on Forsyth’s unpaved Main Street. At the time, its relatively large scale was atypical, but it quickly became a model for others to follow. The second floor offered rental rooms, while a variety of businesses, including Walter Dean’s jewelry and drug store and J. C. Penney, occupied the street-level storefronts. The building’s detailed brick cornice may have been inspired by ones in Anoka, Minnesota. The Forsyth Times reported that Dowlin planned to select the building’s façade on a trip there to visit family in September 1907. The owners’ pride in the structure was obvious: centered beneath the elaborate brick cornice is a concrete panel with the words “Dowlin 1907 Sweetser.”

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863-871 Main Street, Forsyth, Montana ~ private