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History of the Baum-Trinastich Building

Baum TrinastichThe Baum-Trinastich Building was built in 1914, during a time that saw the construction of many landmark structures in Great Falls, including the Great Northern Depot, the Milwaukee Depot, the Anaconda Copper Company’s smokestack and Ryan Dam.  The construction of these structures demonstrated the industrial prosperity that came to Great Falls in the early 20th century.

As a commercial building designed to attract customers, the three story building was designed in the latest architectural style called Renaissance Revival, with up-to-date features including a full basement, provisions for fire safety, kitchen for boarders, and modern plumbing and lighting fixtures. The building’s elegant façade detailing represents the prosperity enjoyed by Great Falls in the 1910's. The Renaissance Revival style was a popular choice for early twentieth century commercial architecture, with its symmetry, simple lines and references to classical styles. For business people eager to display their prosperity and optimism, the style suggested permanence and stability. The design and materials harmonized with the contemporary brick construction in the Central Avenue retail and railroad depot areas, creating a visually cohesive city.

 

Baum Trinastich

 

The building’s original owner was George T. Booth, an immigrant from England who settled in Great Falls in 1892 and served in the state legislature during the 1915-16 term.  In 1896, Booth opened a confectionary store at 114½ 3rd Street South, which he eventually moved into the Baum-Trinastich Building in 1915 as the building's first occupant.  It is unclear how the confectionary shop owner and the building's namesakes, Felix Baum and Joseph Trinastich, were connected.  Baum was a bartender and Trinastich a stone mason.  Trinastich may have been involved in the construction of the Boston and Montana's “Big Stack” that was completed a few years earlier.  In 1908, Baum and Trinastich opened the Cabinet Bar, located at 124 3rd Street South.  In 1910, they moved to  212 3rd Street South, leaving no indication as to why the Baum-Trinastich Building bears their names.

Baum TrinastichIn addition to the confectionary (which operated on the main floor until the early 1950's) the Baum-Trinastich Building has been home to many businesses.  The rear section of the main floor was originally home to a cigar and tobacco shop - hence the Owl Cigar sign on the side of the building.  Originally, the upper floors had boarding rooms, while a barber shop occupied the basement.  In the decades that followed, the first floor was home to bars, taverns, even a French restaurant, while the upper floors were hotels and apartments.  In 1981, an addition was built on the south side of the building.  In more recent years, various insurance companies have occupied the first floor, while the upper floors sat vacant and fell into disrepair.

In early 2012, the law firm of Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C. set out to remodel and rehabilitate the building to house its law offices.  The goal was to return the building to its original grandeur and full occupancy, at the same time allowing the firm to serve its clientele more efficiently, all the while supporting the community vision for downtown Great Falls.  The project (which involved renovating approximately 11,000 square feet and added individual offices, workstations, conference rooms, and reception area) opened up the original grand staircase and included new energy efficient windows, insulation, roofing, security system, installation of an elevator, high efficiency heating and cooling system, plumbing, structural, and electrical enhancements, while retaining the original wood floors, baseboards, trim and other historical features.  Beneath the restored building and old façade now lies state of the art communications and computer capabilities. The rehabilitation was completed in December of 2012.

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