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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Ford’s Drive In – Great Falls, Montana

Ford’s Drive In opened in 1954.  The radial design, with its central pylon and cable supported overhang of this one reminds me of late ’30s designs like Wayne McAllister’s Herbert’s or Simon’s, but the straight car awning and parking pattern negates that design.  Maybe it was added later.  Cheeseburger. Fries. Milkshake.  I appreciated that the milkshake at this one was a proper consistency. I like a thick milkshake as much as the next guy, but I’ve been on a streak where I’ve been getting what seems like straight soft serve with a straw. photo DSCF5553.jpg
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The Top Notch Lunch, Great Falls, Montana

With a fabulous 3D neon sign and a bank of stools, how could I stay away from this charming lunch counter?
Just around the corner from the Sip and Dip / O’Hare’s Motor Inn, I met Beth Lennon of Retro Roadmap and Cliff Hillis here for a chicken fried steak, to recover from the previous night’s fishbowl (more on that later) and to stoke up for what would prove to be a long day of thrifting.

Brian’s Top Notch Cafe
718 Central Ave, Great Falls, MT 59401
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