From the Library Archives: The Warr building by Nancy Watts

The Warr building at 210 W. Main (formerly Lewistown Pharmacy) was built in 1902 by John Laux.

“It has been decided by the directors of the Lewistown Telephone company [which was organized in 1899] that it is necessary to erect a building for the purpose of handling their rapidly increasing business and to that end a half lot on Main Street situated next to Bertrand and Laux has been purchased from A.W. Warr for $1325. The property in question was purchased from the Power Mercantile Company last summer by Mr. Warr. The building plans will be perfected as soon as W.S. Campbell, the telephone architect, returns from a visit to Washington and building operations will be commenced in the near future. The structure will be two stories in height and 26 by 45 in dimension leaving 45 feet vacant space in the rear which will be used for the present for a supply yard. A new switchboard has been built by the Western Electric company of Chicago especially for the Lewistown Telephone company and is now awaiting transportation at Fort Benton.” (“Fergus County Argus”, Jan. 22, 1902).

“Preparations are being made for the erection of a new and commodious office building by the Lewistown Telephone company and at a late meeting the general plans were decided upon and instructions were forwarded to W. S. Campbell of Boise City to prepare the building plans as soon as possible. The structure …is to be built of stone. The entrance to the building will be by a wide portal on the northeast corner to one side of which will be a night booth for the use of the general public. A door from this will lead into the manager’s office back of which will be the long-distance telephone room from which a door will lead into the general exchange room occupied by the central switchboard and its operator.” (“Fergus County Argus,” February 19, 1902).

“A move has been made to commence operations on the erection of the new offices for the Lewistown Telephone company which are to be ready for occupancy early this fall. The building …will be situated on the south half of the lot between the Central Meat Market and Bertrand and Laux. The lower floor and the basement will be occupied by the telephone company while the upper story will in all probability be fitted up for offices. A highly ornamental front (see photo) will be put in and the entire structure will be up-to-date and fitted with all the latest improvements in the line of sanitary plumbing… the basement will be cemented and fitted for the purpose of storing supplies. Inside the front entrance to the right will be an all-night booth while the manager’s room and the day booth are on the left. On the right-hand side of the building will be a comfortably furnished waiting room and the long-distance booth. To the rear of the floor will be situated the toilet room and a stairway to the basement. A switchboard with double the capacity of the one now in use.” (“Fergus County Argus,” May 21, 1902).

“The Warr building is a visual sign of the growth and development in Lewistown. It housed the Lewistown Telephone company until Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph bought the local phone companies in 1912 and unified the lines through one exchange. At that time, it [the Warr Building] became the home of the Fergus County Argus, a newspaper first established in Maiden in 1883.” (Montana Historical and Architectural Inventory, Sievert).

The Warr building (notice the 2 arches in the original building) was first used as the Lewistown Telephone company’s office.
In 1912 it became the home of the Fergus County Argus.
In later years it was the Lewistown Pharmacy.
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