Calamity Jane (5th from the right) in Billings during the railroad strike of June 1894 (photo courtesy of Western Heritage Center)
Located just south of the railroad tracks on the southeast corner of South 27th Street and Minnesota Avenue in Billings, Montana, sits the historic L&L Building and home of Russ Plath Law. Built in the late 1800s, the L&L Building has been a downtown fixture for nearly 150 years. Like Billings, the L&L has had a varied and sometimes colorful history. At the turn of the century, it was a boarding house, owned by Chinese immigrants, brothers Sam and Yee Lee. In fact, it was during that time that one of history's more lively characters took up residence in the L&L, Calamity Jane. She followed construction of the railroad from Wyoming and by the 1890s, found herself a resident of Billings, MT.
The L&L in 1951 (photo courtesy of Perditta McCrea and Laura Kautz)
The L&L in 1975 (photo by Jim Krieg, Billings Gazette)
Arcade bar in the L&L in 1990 (Billings Gazette)
In 1901, Calamity's residency in the boarding house ended in a court battle in which she sued one of the Lee brothers for the contents of a trunk she said that he was keeping without her permission. Mr. Lee countered that the box was given to him as security for rent that Jane had yet to pay. The court sided with Mr. Lee and the trunk stayed with him.
Over the years, the L&L has been home to several restaurants, various office spaces, bars, and a boarding house. As Billings grew and changed, so too did the L&L.
By the late 1990s, the building found itself vacant and neglected after the closing of the notorious Arcade Bar.
After sitting empty for nearly ten years, the building was restored in 2005. For several years after the restoration, Subway sandwiches and a CPA held residence in the building. In early 2016, Russ Plath purchased the building to accommodate the growing law practice. Additional renovations were made and the firm relocated in mid-2016.