Lennep Mercantile Historical Marker

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Lennep 59053,Central Montana

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General info

Location: Lennep

Built in 1914 by M. T. Grande, this building housed a grocery store with a small supply of dry goods. It also served as the post office, which had been established in 1903 in the log home across the road. A succession of storekeepers leased the building through the years.

The large hall upstairs witnessed community dances, the annual What-Not -Club Sale, and fundraising events for the Red Cross and other entities during World War II.

Most of the ranches had telephone service with privately built and maintained lines. Each house boasted a crank telephone with different combinations of long and short rings to signal each other. Every ring rang in every home so it was not difficult to keep up with neighborhood news. Long-distance calls were made by ringing the storekeeper who switched the private line to a line to Martinsdale Hardware where it was switched to the long-distance carrier. After store hours, a caller drove to the store and did the switching himself.

In the sixties, the Milwaukee trains no longer stopped to leave groceries and mail. Sam and Mildred Berg moved their inventory to Martinsdale. They hoped to broaden their market as ranches were consolidated, cattle replaced sheep on the range, and the many sheep camps were shut down. AT&T ran their lines through the neighborhood and provided direct services at all hours. A rural route delivers mail from the Martinsdale post office.

The Grande family still owns the building.

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