By Shirley Wegner
The Montana History Foundation announced recently the awarding of $134,451 in grant funding for history projects in Montana.
Two of those awarded are projects in Lavina. The Golden Valley Community Foundation received a $5,000 grant to help repair and repaint the exterior of the Lavina State Bank building.
The Friends of the Historic Adams Hotel at Lavina were given $3,500 to repaint the exterior siding of the building.
Since 2012, the Montana History Foundation (MHF) has awarded annual grants to projects and organization that work to preserve and protect the historic legacy of Montana.
“Awarding grants is the most important thing we do every year,” said MHF President/CEO Charlene Porsild. “The future of these history projects relies on grant funding, and we are delighted to impact the future of Montana’s history by offering support.”
The Lavina State Bank was built in 1908 and chartered in 1911, according to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, but as many others in Montana failed to live through the 1920’s.
The building remained empty from 1923 to 1930 when it housed the post office. The Freemasons bought the building and added onto the back, converting the upstairs space to accommodate their lodge meetings.
The Lavina Lodge #107 met on the second floor and until 1960 the post office occupied the storefront. The Ryegate Temple Lodge #101 and Lavina Lodge #107 combined in 1995 to form Lavina-Temple Lodge #101.
In 2003 restoration of the buildings began and as a result it now reflects its historic appearance. The grant is to repaint the exterior and continue the preservation of the building.
The Adams hotel was built in 1908 the year the railroad came to town. The hotel survived off and on for many years but was too large for the size of town Lavina came to be.
The hotel was expanded in 1911 but the drought of the 1920’s stymied any hoped-for growth. The Adams was said to be a first-class establishment with steam heat, gas lighting, a bar stocked with the finest liquors and cigars, a dining room and ladies’ withdrawing room on the second floor.
Each guest room boasted carpeting, fine furnishings and matching china washbowl and pitcher set. Social events were held in the dining room and lobby and the hotel was the center of local hospitality.
The Adams held its own during the homestead boom but drought, crop failures, bank closures all resulted in few guests staying and in the mid-1920s the hotel closed. The building’s bar area served as the chapel for the Lutheran Church from the 1930s through the 1970s.
After several owners the building came back into the hands of the descendants of original builder Ludwig C. Lehfeldt in 2015 and restorations began in earnest through the Friends of the Historic Adams Hotel.
An open house and fundraising tour of the historic building was held Labor Day 2016.
The grant will finance painting of the exterior of the buildings.
Both Lavina buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.