Designed by Kirkland Cutter in 1895, the Conrad Mansion, with its beautiful Shingle-style architecture making it an instant design statement for one of Kalispell’s most prominent founding families–was THE domestic architecture landmark when I surveyed the town during the state historic preservation plan of 1984-1985. I really did not look further. As the collage below shows, that was a mistake.
Kalispell has a wide range of domestic architecture, from turn of the 20th century American Four Squares to the Revival styles of the 1920s-1940s, that was captured in its 1994 multiple property nomination to the National Register of Historic Places that led to the creation of the East Side, the West Side, and the Courthouse historic districts. Defined by tree-lined streets, the variety of house types within the district makes every step along the way worthwhile.
The images above and those below come from those well maintained neighborhoods, where the sense of place and pride is so strongly stated.
But in this quick overview of some of the most impressive Montana neighborhoods–despite overwhelming growth Kalispell has not left its older homes behind–let me re-emphasize a theme of my recent re-survey of the state: contemporary design and the homes of the 1950s to early 1970s that were not considered closely in either 1984 or 1994.
Hats off to Kalispell: a town that had changed so much from 1985 to 2015–let me tell you it didn’t take long to pass through town 30 years ago. But through historic preservation, its roots are still there, serving as the foundation for the future.