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Home Architectural: News, Designs & Projects From Peas to Prosperity: Bozeman’s Historic Cannery Building Revived for Modern Era

From Peas to Prosperity: Bozeman’s Historic Cannery Building Revived for Modern Era

Bozeman Cannery District

The vast fields and farmland that surrounds Bozeman, MT tell the story of a past built on agriculture. The remnants of steel towers and granaries reflect the history of the strong crop processing industry that supported the city through most of the 19th century.

As farming gave way to tech jobs and small processing plants were replaced with large manufacturing companies, many of these pieces of history have fallen into disrepair or are slowly sinking back into the earth.

One of these buildings, the old pea cannery, is getting a second chance and will once again be part of Bozeman’s thriving business community as the latest phase in the revitalization of Bozeman’s Cannery District.


The original building was home to the Bozeman Canning Company from 1917 through 1961. Along with 13,000 cases of peas per day, workers also canned carrots, beans and meat for the workers during the Depression. The plant was eventually closed in 1961. It was sold in the early 1970s and the top floors were sheeted over with metal, sealing up this important part of the city’s history until developers Barry Brown and Scott Dehlendorf purchased the property in May 2014 with plans to restore the building to its original vibrancy.

In 2004 Brown and Dehlendorf began working with architects Ben Lloyd and Doug Minarik on the three buildings adjacent to the Cannery Building – the Hardware Building, the Warehouse Building, and the Granary Building – which now house restaurants, retail shops, and offices. Shortly after the project finished Doug moved to Portland, OR to begin his own architecture firm.

“When the developers were able to buy the land next door with the old cannery building it was their idea to ‘get the band back together,’” explains Ben. “To have Doug involved as the local guy, it made sense to continue the theme of the revitalized Cannery District.”

Everyone involved in the project agreed that the building’s historical roots and character were important to preserve. Ben remembers walking into the building in 1995, when the history was covered over by old metal.

“I walked into that building and the structure of it, the proportion and just the way it felt was amazing. It’s like an agricultural cathedral,” he recalls. “Then I went to the fourth floor and slid open the old pea receiving door and the views were like: wow!”

The building’s history also came with some challenges for architects and contractors. It was important to the developers and the architects to preserve as much of the original character of the building as possible. The original building was slightly slanted to allow gallons of water used to wash the peas to drain easily and quickly across the floors and out the sides of the building. Many of the original beams and stairs required refurbishing, and additional work needed to be done to bring the four-story timber building up to modern day codes.

“There is so much value in buildings that you can’t recreate, whether it’s building codes or the type of wood available to us,” explains Doug. “It’s a credit to the owners to say, ‘we really care about these buildings’ because it would have been less expensive to start from scratch.”

The original building was clad in a wood lap siding, but recreating that look would require extensive cost and maintenance with repair work and repainting. The most reasonable alternative was to use metal siding. The Granary Building next door made use of the original corrugated metal panels, and the architects decided to look for a newer material that would match the old patchwork look of the corrugated metal panels.

Rezibond, a bare metal product with an aged look and natural color variance, was the obvious choice for Ben and Doug. The quilt-like character of the old metal siding panels on the granary became the template for the look they were striving for at the Cannery. They chose 7/8” Corrugated metal panels cut into 3’ lengths to achieve this look.

“That old quilted look adds a visual variety and a vernacular that is beautiful but also crosses over into modern architecture,” explains Ben. “That’s why Rezibond was our preferred metal siding. Rezibond has a restraint to it color-wise, and when you put it up it’s closer to the intended overall design of the building.”

“That variance in grain pattern of the Rezibond is very important,” adds Doug. “From a distance it reads like one big form, but as you get closer it reveals more of the natural irregularities of the grain.”

While the old building is the main focal point and inspiration for the redesign, the architects decided to add on a newer section to create more usable space and increase the function of the building. It was important to create a visual distinction between the old and new, and this was accomplished using longer panels of 7/8” Corrugated metal siding in Matte Black to create a more polished look with longer lines.

These plans will take an old 19th Century building into the 21st Century.

Cannery District

When completed, the Cannery Building will be home to the restaurant Seven Sushi, The Barber Shop & Shaving Parlor, and retail spaces. The upper floors will be office spaces perfect for the growing tech industry in Bozeman.

Even though it takes more money and effort to salvage it, in the end you can feel good that you’ve breathed new life into something that’s original use had expired,” says Doug. “Everyone who goes in there will recognize the value of the industrial scale building.”

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