George Hartman Home

Built in 1884 by George Hartman, this stately house was located at 625 E. Front Street where the present day Hilton Doubletree is now.  In the early 1900s, just to its east at the mouth of Rattlesnake Creek, was the Missoula ice plant and ice pond.  It is interesting that both this house and the Rankin house, a block north on Madison, had cupolas. Perhaps, they were built so the goings-on in four-block-to-the-west wild and wooly downtown could be observed from a safe distance, and/or to be the first to witness stages and trains coming in from the east.

Sadly the Hartman house, like Rankin’s, was razed in 1962 to make way for construction of the Madison Street bridge.

625 E. Front_built_by_George_Hartman_in_1884

John Rankin Home

Once located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Madison, this unique home was built by John Rankin, father of Jeanette Rankin, the first congresswoman from Montana, and  her famous brother Wellington Rankin.  It, tragically, was razed in 1962 so Madison Street could be widened to accommodate the new bridge.

Rankin house

Rankin home at 134 Madison Street


Rankin House

Ormesher’s Complete Food Market

At the northeast corner of Main and Ryman, from the early 1950s until the 1990s, there was a a small gravel parking lot flanked on the east by a number of old buildings that were later torn down to make way for a city parking garage.  If you ever wondered what might have been there before the little lot, it was a grocery store, Ormesher’s Market (which evidently had replaced an earlier business known as Deschamps Imports).

Ormesher's Grocery


That small parking lot was what became of the building site after a catastrophic fire consumed Ormesher’s in December 1952.

Ormesher fire after



Cyr Roadhouse

Half way between Missoula and Frenchtown on the old Mullan Road was the Cyr Hotel, also known as “Half Way House.” The building was located on the Cyr Ranch, the Cyr’s being a large French immigrant family that settled several parts of the Grass and Frenchtown valleys in the 1870s.

John Cyr built the ranch house (left half) in 1885.  In the late 1800s, an addition was constructed (right half) and the former residence began operating as a hotel.  By the early 1900s, the place was a full blown roadhouse, complete with bar and dance hall, helping to ease the lives of people traveling to and from the city by horse, coach or buggy.

Cyr Roadhouse : Sol RanchThe last hurrah for the roadhouse was the period around 1908 when the Milwaukee Road was put through.   Construction crews provided a brisk trade at the time, but evidently business later fell off resulting in eventual closure of the hotel.

By 1926, when the Sol family purchased the ranch property, the addition had been torn down.  The original Cyr ranch house thus became the Sol ranch house which, Lynn (Sol) Moss remembers, had seven bedrooms. “The hotel part was torn down, leaving this beautiful house…it had four 6 foot cherry wood pillars in the living room ..granite counters in the kitchen and an exquisite claw foot bathtub…which came later.”

Joe Sol lived at the ranch house into the 1960s.  The Sols sold much of the ranch in 1965.  Evidently, the house still stands but sadly is in a state of grave disrepair with broken glass and doors hanging open.

Many thanks to Michael Sol and Mark Sol for photos and information on this lost treasure.

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The Sol ranch house in the 1950s








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The ranch house today.


The Western Hotel

Long ago The Atlantic Hotel, on North Higgins between Spruce and Alder, had a fraternal twin just across the alley, the Western Hotel. The Western was gone by the 1970s at which time Hamburger Ace occupied the site. Now the Iron Horse fills the space.

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D’Orazi’s Bar, Grocery and Hotel

Owned by one of Missoula’s oldest Italian families, D’Orazi’s Bar, grocery store and hotel were on the SE corner of Woody and Alder in a building that once housed the luxurious Europe Hotel. One of the D’Orazi daughters married former Italian P.O.W., Alfredo Cipalatto.  Together the two owned and ran The Broadway Market.

The photo is from 1968. The hotel and the neighboring shanties were torn down around 1970.

D'Orazi on Woody

Missoula’s Unrecollected and Almost Unrecollected Indoor Theaters


  • Bennett Opera House (1880s-90s) / Empire Theater (circa 1900) live performance theater on the 2nd floor of the Bennett Block at 125 E. Front
  • The Bijou (silent movies, circa 1908-circa 1930) on W. Main where the parking garage is now
  • Campus Theater / Golden Horn / World Theater (second run movies, circa 1960 – circa 1990) at 2025 S. Higgins
  • The Crystal (nightly art-house movie theater, 1972-1990s) at 515 S. Higgins
  • The Fox (first run movies, 1949-1990) at the SW corner of Orange and Front
  • The Gem (hurdy-gurdy, circa 1900) on West Front east of the Top Hat
  • The Harnois (live performance theater, 1909-circa 1920) on E. Main across from the Union Hall
  • The Liberty (a movie theater, 1920 to 1943) occupied the Harnois building
  • The Mascot (1890s) on the south side of W. Front
  • The Rialto (movie theater 1920s to 1962) on East Front across from the Missoula Mercantile
  • The Rio (second run movies, 1930s-40s) on North Higgins just south of Eddie’s Club/Charlie B’s location
  • The Roxy (nightly second-run movie theater, 1937-1994) at 718 S. Higgins
  • The Union (early 1900s live performance theater) in Union Hall on E. Main

The Sunshine Bar

Located at 601 Woody Street, Jimmy Rose’s Sunshine Bar was the place to go if you were into hillbilly music in the early 1950s.  The place was so small and the demand so large that crowds would party outside in the street, turning their car radios up so they could better hear the music inside as it was broadcast live.  Rose, alas, lost the Sunshine in 1957 owing to legal troubles surrounding the establishment, and so ended the hillbilly heyday.  The Sunshine Bar continued more sedately under new ownership at the same location through 1969, by which time most of the north end of Woody had become vacant and derelict.

West side Woody St 1968

Looking south on Woody toward the NW corner of Woody and Alder. The Sunshine is the white building just visible at the far end of the block.









The building is occupied today by Fran’s Second Hand.  During the ’70s and ’80s, it housed A&J Meats.

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The Chapel of the Dove (1982-1993)

Chapel of the Dove in 1988.  Click on image to be taked to article about the Chapel.

Chapel of the Dove in 1988.    Click on image for an article about the Chapel in Box Office magazine.










Designed and created by Edward Sharp, proprietor of the Wilma Theater, The Chapel of the Dove, located in the basement of the Wilma Building, was the third theater in the structure and a monument to Mr. Sharp’s beloved pigeon, Korro Hatto, who could often be seen perched upon Eddie’s shoulder as he took sold tickets and refreshments at the entrance.  Films were regularly shown in this dazzlingly eclectic space, and it could be rented for weddings or other occasions as well. After Mr. Sharp passed away, the Chapel was razed and a conventional two screen theater installed. Now, the space is occupied by a restaurant, and the grand altar piece resides at Rockin’ Rudy’s.

Flamingo Lounge at the Park Hotel

Built in 1903 and originally called the Grand Pacific Hotel, the structure’s name was later changed to The Kennedy Hotel.  By the 1930s the building had become The Park Hotel. It was renovated in the 1990s and is now occupied by a retail store and The Park Place Apartments.


The Park Hotel in the 1970s.
 click on image to visit flickr for full size original upload by fieldnine

Located on the ground floor of the Park Hotel, The Flamingo Lounge was Missoula’s premier dive bar in the ’60s and ’70s.  The biker hangout before Luke’s opened in 1975, it was a very large open room, with old linoleum tiles on the floor and black steel poles holding up the ceiling, containing a bar on the southeast corner, a small stage on the west end of the north wall, and numerous mis-matched tables and chairs.

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The Flamingo Lounge in the 1970s.
click on image to visit flickr for full size original upload by fieldnine