The Polar Bear and the Barrel – Great Falls, Montana

Polar Bear Building – 900 Central Ave W, Great Falls, MT
Currently for sale, this building appears to have last housed “Cash Converters”. What was it originally? An ice cream stand? Whatever it was, the building itself has been remodeled and covered over. It’s surprising and fortunate that the iceberg and polar bear on top has survived.

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Barrel O’Bucks
527 Central Ave W, Great Falls, MT 59404

This looks like it was originally a fully barrel shaped building which was gradually added onto over the years. The question is – what was it originally?
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The Sip & Dip Lounge, Great Falls, MT

I’ve been hearing about the Sip and Dip for the better part of my two years out here living in Montana, but it took a visit from Beth Lennon of Retro Roadmap to finally kick me in the pants to drive the roughly 200 miles northwest to get a drink.

The Sip and Dip is inside the O’Haire Motor Inn, a cool motel in its own right – more on that later.

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After the hotel pool shuts down for the day, the mermaids come out.  Walking into the Sip and Dip before Pat came on was a truly bizarre experience, with everyone silently drinking their drinks, staring at the mermaids, transfixed.

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The Fishbowl. It may be Montana, but when at a tiki bar, always go for blue, always go for umbrellas.  I ordered up dinner from the hotel restaurant, Clark and Lewie’s: an enormous pulled pork sandwich, topped with mac and cheese and and even more cheese.  I figured if I was going for the ridiculous drink, I may as well find the culinary equivalent.  Gratuitous?  Yes.  But did it ever hit the spot.

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The main attraction: Piano Pat, who has been playing at the Sip and Dip since 1963.
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Neat features of the O’Haire Motor Inn:  Pushbutton light switches scattered throughout the room so you are never out of reach of every light in the place.  Vaulted Ceilings.  Sand filled cinder block walls for soundproofing, metal seamed ceilings in the halls with glass signage. Patent Pending Handi-Press Iron-A-Way ironing board hidden behind a mirror in the bedroom section of the room, lights and an aircraft control inspired switchboard for handing check in, check out and room cleaning, wall ventilation panels, interior courtyard underground parking

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The sign for the Sip and Dip, also showing the Top Notch Lunch
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Even Tracy’s Family Restaurant on Central Avenue gets into the mermaid theme.
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O’Haire Motor Inn / Sip and Dip Lounge
17 7th St S, Great Falls, MT 59401