Classic Architecture of the Old West

“That’s a false front, honey.”


“Here, let’s walk around the side of the building, see? It’s not a big two story building at all. It’s a false front. They put that front up there to look fancy and have a place to put their sign.”

The picture above is of Dillon, Co in the 1880s. 

There were a lot of things like that when I was a kid that I don’t see much any more — pressed tin ceilings, pneumatic tubes in department stores, elaborate brass cash registers, player pianos — but if you think about it, the “old” west (1880s) was only 70 years before I was born. My mom and dad, born in the 20s, in Montana, were born into the rag-tag end days of the Wild West and the deadly glamor of Prohibition. My dad’s dad and mom made bathtub gin.

In my town — not too surprisingly — there are still “false front” buildings and they’ll probably remain as the whole town was declared a national historic site back in the 1990s. Not that every building is historically important or every building falls under the purview of the rules regarding national historic buildings, but many of the buildings downtown were hand built by stone masons of local stone and they are beautiful.



You can see a few false-fronts though they’re not so obvious from this view — our movie theater has one.


4 thoughts on “Classic Architecture of the Old West

    • Universal Studios has a whole western “town” that is only the fronts of buildings. It’s pretty convincing, too, when you see it in a movie. Our false fronts are attached to buildings which makes them a little more “real.”

  1. My grandfather made home brew during prohibition. When the beer would start popping the caps off the bottles in the middle of the night, he’d wake up my 12-year-old father to help him drink it so it wouldn’t go to waste.

Comments are closed.