At first glance, Dutton is like many northern plains railroad towns, located on the Great Northern Railway spur line between Shelby and Great Falls. The false front of Mike’s Tavern, then other plain, functional one-story buildings–we have seen hundreds of similar scenes across the Big Sky Country.
Then, suddenly, there is the cool mid-century modernism of the Dutton-Brady School (Brady is another neighboring railroad town), a style also embraced by the Bethany Lutheran Church.
But neither of these buildings prepare you for the Dutton State Bank, perhaps the best small town modernist buildings in Montana.
Anytime I have been in this part of Montana over the last 30 years, I have stopped to see if the Dutton bank was (1) still in business (times have been difficult for small banks to say the least) and (2) if the building had changed in a major way. In the last 30 years, a small addition has been made to the rear of the building, but all other character defining features remain, especially the “wheat-themed” sign. It lets anyone know that while the railroad provides the transportation, it is wheat that drives the local economy, What a wonderful, fun commercial building.