Forsyth Main Street Historic District

Captain William Clark trekked through this area on his journey down the Yellowstone River in 1806. By the time General George Armstrong Custer passed by en route to the Little Bighorn in 1876, homesteads dotted the area. As the Northern Pacific Railroad pushed west in 1882, officials platted the town of Forsyth to serve its crews. They planned the town with a one-sided Main Street facing the railroad right-of-way. Growth at first was tentative with businesses clustered around the principal intersection at Main and Ninth Streets. Early urban development resulted from the efforts of Hiram Marcyes and Thomas Alexander, rival businessmen who controlled much of Forsyth’s early economy. As the railroad attracted a more diverse population that included doctors, lawyers, merchants, and service providers, Forsyth became a regional trade and social center. In 1901 Rosebud County was established with Forsyth as the county seat. Main Street expanded rapidly during the homestead boom of the 1910s. Although drought and depression in 1918 halted most development, Forsyth’s importance as a local trade center was undiminished. Today twenty-four buildings span the period 1888-1931, offering small-town ambiance. The Marcyes Building and the Alexander Hotel, built by the town’s two rivals, represent the early period. Several fine architect-designed blocks from the twentieth century also enrich the streetscape. The Renaissance Revival style Commercial Hotel (1903–6), the Beaux Arts style Wacholz Building (1917), and the Spanish Eclectic Roxy Theatre (1930) illustrate the vitality of this small but thriving community.

933 Main Street

In 1882, pioneer Thomas Alexander traded a parcel of land to the Northern Pacific in exchange for other property nearby. Alexander’s farm became the town of Forsyth and Alexander became an important local merchant and real estate developer. Among…

Commercial Hotel

Decorative brickwork marks this impressive hotel designed by Montana architects Link and Haire. A vivid diamond pattern of light and dark brick provides a decorative band below the cornice, while raised brickwork divides the building vertically. A…

Dowlin & Sweetser Block

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.…

Kennedy - Fletcher Block

A pressed metal cornice, door surrounds made of cast iron, and an exposed steel I-beam distinguish the façade of the 1907 Kennedy-Fletcher block. Geo. L. Mesker and Co. of Bedford, Indiana, the largest architectural ironworks in the country,…

Masonic Temple

Terra-cotta medallions sporting the Masonic emblem of square and compass and the words “Masonic Temple” centered beneath the cornice proudly announce this building’s primary purpose. Chartered in 1898, the Forsyth Masonic Lodge met in borrowed…

McCuiston Building

A rear door big enough to drive through hints at this building’s original purpose. Rancher, banker, and businessman Joshua P. McCuistion initially intended to construct a one-story automobile dealership and repair shop, but the demand for office…

Merchant's Bank

Pioneer businessman Thomas Alexander founded Forsyth’s first bank in 1892. In 1898, he built this ashlar stone bank building with material quarried within a mile of Forsyth. Three small panels on the cornice commemorate the year of construction and…

Merchant's Bank Block

A 1912 fire at the next-door American Hotel likely provided the impetus to stucco the façade of this brick building. Thomas Alexander, a pioneer businessman and founder of the Merchant’s Bank, built the first story of the two-story business block…