Swift Building Lofts

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

Located in the old Swift and Company building, The Swift Building was renovated in a manner that is consistent with historic preservation practices. The building received the highest certifications in historic preservation: it is a Certified Historic Tax Credit rehabilitation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making the Swift Building Lofts a unique example of historic preservation and sustainable design.

HISTORY/HERITAGE

What is the history of the Swift and Company building?

Built in 1916, the Swift and Company building was one of two meat wholesalers located in the Billings area.  Built as a wholesale meat market, Swift and Company occupied the building from the time it was built through the 1970’s. Built within the large warehouse district which emerged along the railroad tracks in Billings during the early years of the 20th century, the Swift Building is directly associated with the early 20th century downtown Billings development boom that occurred as a result of local economic prosperity after the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1882 and subsequent railroads in 1894. Maps from the early 20th century show that everything from meats, wool, produce, and groceries to furniture, hardware, and agricultural implements were housed in the buildings along the tracks.

During the 1980’s, a company called Reflective Art Glass and Mirror Etching occupied the building.  In the 1990's, the building then became more commonly known as the Potato Factory when a French fry and potato processing factory occupied the space.

What is the architectural design?

The Swift Building is a two and a half story warehouse building located along the north side of Minnesota Avenue in downtown Billings.  It is adjacent to a c. 1948 Quonset type building with a brick storefront to the west.  It illustrates the typical warehouse design and construction ideas of the early 20th century: heavy timber and beam construction and cold storage design.

TODAY

How has the Swift Building Lofts maintained historic elements and integrity?

Today, the historic design and character are intact: historic masonry, window fenestration, detailing, and interior finishes still remain.  The building features original exposed wood columns, beams, and joists, as well.  Many of the walls are finished in vertical wood plank or bead board. Original coolers have become bedrooms and bathrooms and large cooler doors are retained and fixed in place.  The original scale and safe have been salvaged and are on display in the lobby of the building.

The building exterior underwent a complete rehabilitation in order to recall the original design intent and preserve the building’s historic integrity.  Bricks were replaced, reset or repaired.  The original canopy was rebuilt.  Two original skylights were salvaged and replaced in their original location.  Above the second floor windows on the north wall, a ghost sign reads “Swift and Company.” The Swift and Company building was a significant contributing building within a National Register Historic District; after becoming certified and listed on the National Register, the Swift Building helped to establish the Billings Old Town District as a historic district.

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