LEWISTOWN — For more than 100 years, the Emporium building has stood tall in downtown Lewistown. It’s been vacant since 2008 but that is about to change. Doug and Loraine Day bought the building from the city for $75,000 and want to restore what they call a big part of Lewistown’s downtown.
“I come down Third and come down this way quite a bit across Broadway when I walk,” Loraine said. “I looked at the building one day back in September and just thought why is this always so empty? It just has so much potential and is a beautiful site. I think it’s going to be amazing for Lewistown, one because the life on Main Street is really coming back you know. And the economy is really growing within our little city. For us to be able to come in and to help restore and to bring that back and to give it some purpose is huge for us, and I think it’ll be really good for the city as well.”
The Days have owned it for several weeks and have spent most of their time hauling rubble and cleaning up what they can. There is a lot of work to be done but they hope to turn it into what it used to be. They want to see an ice cream parlor, a music class, and much more fill the building.
They also run Main Street Treats and a music class just a block away and hope to bring those into the Emporium to expand them. The total cost to repair was estimated at $175,000, but the Days anticipate it to be much more than that. They aren’t sure how much, but they are up to the task.
“It’s neat to hear the stories of people around town talk about their memories of the Emporium coming shopping here or buying an antique here,” Doug said. “I was talking with a guy who said a friend of his helped run a boxing class down in the basement back in the day. There was a lot going on when it was open, and we want to bring that back. We need an architect to come in and help with the plans on developing the building. Emporium means like a big shopping center, enterprise, growth, and that’s great for Montana and it’s great for Lewistown.”
The Day family is unsure when the building will be fully restored but they have plans to have at least part of it open by next fall.