Studebaker Building

216 W. Main St., Missoula, Montana


By Dsetay - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,




"As the automobile gained popularity in the 1910s, stables and garages existed side by side until motor travel prevailed over horses in the 1920s. The succession of businesses at this address documents the transition that must have been hard on old-timers like Joseph P. Nagle, who first advertised his livery at this location in 1896. By 1912, at least one nearby business catered exclusively to the automobile, but Nagle continued to serve customers preferring horse-drawn conveyances. When the paving of this block of West Main Street in 1914 forecast the area’s development as an automobile-related business corridor, Nagle still held out. The present building replaced the stable after 1918. By 1921, the Main Street Motor Company advertised repairs and rental space for 70 vehicles. Most automobile owners in the early years stored them in garages for $15 to $20 a month, where they could be maintained and protected from cold weather. The spacious second floor, accessed by an interior ramp, served as such a facility. A Chevrolet dealership operated here in 1930, and in 1936, Louis Nybo sold Studebakers, the choice of the Missoula police force, until the 1950s. A vibrant example of 1920s utilitarian commercial architecture, the crenelated polychrome corner parapet with its repeating cloud-shaped ornamentation is an exceptional example of deco style “arc ziggurat.” The original industrial steel-frame show windows, carefully refurbished, illustrate design elements associated with the early auto industry." - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 1997
Reference number
Architectural style
American Movement: Early Commercial
Areas of significance
Architecture; Transportation; Commerce
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Specialty store; Road-related
Current function
Specialty store
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant year

Update Log 

  • January 27, 2020: New photo from Bill Eichelberger
  • July 24, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information