Saturday, November 22, 2014

The View from Here: Photographing at a Game Farm

I'm one of those people who loves to capture wildlife....through the lens of my camera.  Truth be told, I rarely see wildlife in "the wild".  While I spend a lot of time in Glacier National Park (I volunteer), the park's abundant wildlife -- wolverines, mountain lions, Canada lynx, grizzly and black bears -- are exceedingly camera shy.  The next time you see a ranger, ask them how many Canada lynx or mountain lions they have seen in the last 30 years.  None?  Really?  Click.

Lucky for those of us who live and take pictures in the Flathead Valley of Montana, there is Triple D Game Farm.  My experience at the farm includes classes taken from Flathead Valley Community College, workshops run with a professional photographer, and sessions I've arranged myself.

I know, I's not exactly the same as seeing that big grizzly bear running through the river, grabbing for a fish.  But how many times will you EVER run across that picture unless you spend weeks/months in the wild?  Or the elusive glimpse of a Fisher or Pine Martin?  And if you did, would your camera be ready to catch the action?  Would you be in the right position?

So here are the reasons why I enjoy photographing at a game farm, and the reasons I think you might want to try it:
  • First and foremost -- seeing and photographing a wide variety of animals you would likely never get to see in the wild.  Unless you want to travel to Tibet and spend months searching, you might never see a Snow Leopard.  Likewise, the chance to see an Amur Leopard (there are less than 40 in the wild) is pretty rare.  Even animals found in Montana, like a bobcat or mountain lion are hard to catch on film.  And game farms typically have many smaller animals such as pine marten, fisher, raccoon, all types of fox, porcupine, badger, etc.  All of these animals are happy and well fed, which makes for beautiful pictures.
Snow Leopard
Amur Leopard
  • You can get great pictures without investing in expensive, long lenses.  Most of the time a 200mm lens is all you need to get the shot -- certainly no more than a 400mm.  These animals are worked extremely close to the photographer.  For some of the smaller animals, you can shoot at eye level.

Canada Lynx (100mm using a 70-300mm)
  •  At a game farm, the animals are photographed at sites that show the natural habitat of the animal.  Rocky hills, ponds, forests make the photographs look like you've taken them in the wild (remember, however, never pass off a captive animal as wild).  Game farms also take their animals "on the road", where they can be photographed at unusual and beautiful settings -- but natural for that animal. 

  • A game farm exists for photographers.  And the person who helps the photographer get those great shots is the TRAINER.   His/her relationship with these animals can make or break a photo shoot.  The trainer understands what a photographer is looking for, what makes a good shot, when the light is correct, and how to get the animal to the spot you want, which makes getting the action you want possible.  It is amazing to watch a big cat respond to the trainer's "go up" and proceed to climb a rock face, right where the photographer requests.  As with most human-animal relationships, this is a result of the trainer bonding with the animals, loving them....and of course the best incentive of all, FOOD!!  
Red Fox Reflection
  •  The trainer can also be helpful in removing a branch that's in the wrong sport or pulling out a bunch of grass obscuring an animal's face -- things you can't do in the wild.  I should add that the trainers are also there for your protection.  These animals have training, but you can never forget they are wild.  
Mountain Lion "Action Shot"
  •  A game farm gives you the opportunity to try many different types of shots.  You can perfect an "action" shot, retaking it multiple times.  A mountain lion jumping between two rocks (which they can do 5 or 6 times), a coyote, wolf, or big cat jumping down a rock face.  You may never get a chance like that in the wild -- and if you saw it, would you be ready?  You can try different types of shots with the help of the trainer, like practicing a "slow pan" several times.  Use the game farm to practice and learn your equipment so if/when you do have that opportunity in the wild, you are ready.

    Snow Leopard
    Wolf Pack

    Most game farms work with a variety of professional photographers, and you can sign up for their workshops, which are given year round.  The opportunity to learn from the best is thrilling. 
Are there downside's to shooting at a game farm?  Not really, but here are a few things you need to consider:

  • It's not free, like shooting in the wilderness.  You can book photo sessions for yourself at about $250/animal.  Sessions with professionals can range from $1,000 up to $2,000 for 3-5 days and eight animals.  And don't forget to tip -- the trainers work very hard for you, and deserve your thanks. 
  •  Try to schedule a workshop where there won't be too many people.  I've done some with 12 people, which means you may not have much of a choice of where you shoot.  The farm does tell you that you can change positions, but reality is -- where you end up in the line is where you are going to shoot.  Workshops with about 6 people are perfect.  It gives you more opportunity to pick your spot and change if you need to.
  • And of course, it isn't "the wild".  If you want to camp out, searching for hours, days, weeks to capture wildlife on film, then a game farm isn't for you.  But you can consider a "photo safari" -- which is another topic.  
 What you'll need at the game farm:
  • Your camera, a lens, and a tripod.  As I've mentioned, a 200mm zoom lens will yield many good pictures.  Nothing over 400mm is required; however, a tripod is a must.  You may handhold some, but when you are standing on the side of a hill.....
  •  Lots of cards and batteries.
  •  You can take your camera case or pack with you to the site.  I prefer to put what I need into pockets and carry my camera and tripod.  A small fanny pack or a photographer's vest can be useful to carry things without bulk.  Anything sitting on the ground could be taken by the animals -- and you probably won't get it back in one piece.
  • In the winter, dress warmly and in layers.  You'll be photographing outside for most of the morning and again in the afternoon.  Gloves with free fingers are great for shooting; warm boots essential.  And I found it's wise to have a pair of ice grips for your boots -- you might not need them, but it's better to be prepared.
  •  In the summer, the shoot start very early or run late to get the best light and avoid the heat of the day when the animals don't move around much.  Water and sun screen are always a good idea.
  •  With smaller animals, you can get down low (on the animal's eye level) so a small, collapsible seat is good to have.  In the winter, waterproof pants (like ski pants) let you sit on the ground to get those shots. 
How much hiking is involved?

Game farms like Triple D lease sites close to their location, and vehicles can be driven fairly close.  depending on the natural habitat of the animal, some up hill walking could be involved.  And some animals are taken right at the game farm's location.

The Game Farm may also take their animals on a "road trip"  -- other states where they find beautiful scenery (but still natural to the animal).  Check with the game farm to see what type of hiking is required when they are away from their base location.

I have photographed at Triple D Game Farm many times.  I've enjoyed it immensely and recommend highly.  Although not "in the wild", it's an adventure in it's own right, and your photos will prove that.  You've never been so close to these exotic and wild animals.

Wolf Pack - Mating Season
 And don't forget -- the animals start off as BABIES!!!!  Absolutely adorable!!!!

Tiger Cub

Grizzly Cub

Wolf Pup

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The original post contained some very beautiful "mansions" on the east side of Kalispell.  In 2011, I never finished the "Part II" of the article.  While these homes are smaller in stature, they are BIG in history.  Again, most of this text came from the historical plagues. 


I put this house first, even though it was probably built last of the houses in this post.  It is very "unique" and I've not seen another home like it in Kalispell.  The Graham House is also on the NATIONAL Registry.

Graham House
Wilbur and Celeste Graham built this hallmark Art Moderne style home in 1942.  The style took it's look from the modern means of transport that had captured the popular imagination of the 1930's.  While the Depression had taken it's toll on the countries economic life, Americans were still proud of their technical prowess.  In an expression of determined optimism, commerical and architectural design of the era imitated the sleek curves and smooth surfaces that gave cars and airplanes their aerodynamic advantage.  The chic, stripped-down style also had the benefit of being relatively inexpensive to build.  Favored by architects, Art Moderne had less of a popular following than more familiar looking styles, making examples relative rare in Montana.  

A building contractor, Wilbur designed this home for himself, including the extra long garage that provided space for his office.  Perhaps his profession gave him an advantage in finding construction materials, which were scarce during the war years; this is one of the few Kalispell residences built during World War II.  

The Graham house features many of the elements that characterize the Art Moderne style:  a flat roof with a ledge at the roof line, stucco siding, rounded corners, metal sash windows flush with the wall, and a circular window in the front door (reminiscent of a ship's porthole).  Chrome door handles, hinges, and cabinet pulls continued the modern look in the interior.  The Graham's, who never tired of their stylish home, both lived here until their deaths, his in 1958, and hers in 2001.  


There were very few homes in the neighborhood when the Reverend O. W. Mintzer built this cross-gabled Queen Anne style landmark in 1894.  Although brick was readily available, it's wood construction illustrates the local preference of the period.  Rich details including 
stained glass, an ornate screen door, and  decorative
Brintnall House
scrollwork complement the typical Queen Anne asymmetry.  

By the turn of the century, American Steam Laundry proprietor Frederick French lived in the home with his family and eight boarders.  The Frenches advertised their rooms as having electric light, water, and an additional amenity:  laundry service.  

Chester Brintnall owned the home by 1923 when he leased it to Montana author Frank Bird Linderman.  Linderman went into the hotel business to finance his writing career and lived here in the 1920's while he was the successful proprietor of the Kalispell Hotel.  A Kalispell school bears Lindermans name.  Brintnall, who helped establish Kalispell's rural delivery routes and later became assistant postmaster, lived here from 1927 to 1952.


M.C. Conley, general contractor for the Conrad Mansion, constructed the gable roofed residence that Arthur Pearmain, the Conrad Mansion's supervising architect, designed for this lot in 1895.  Like many Kalispell homes of the era, the wooden home used locally quarried gray-blue argillite for the foundation.  
McKeown/Braunberger House
With six large rooms and an indoor bathroom, the "neat building" housed bank clerk George Phillips, his wife Annie, their two sons, and a housemaid in 1900.  Although a 1907 newspaper account described the home as "one of the prettiest and most comfortable residences on the townsite", architectural fashion continued to evolve.

Around 1920, William and Grace McKeown, added a large addition and transformed the residence's appearance by affixing Colonial Revival style detailing, including grambrel-roof front facade and colonial chimney and fireplace.  Constructed between 1910 and 1927, the gambrel-roof garage also helped the nineteenth-century adapt to twentieth-century requirements.

Watchmaker A. J. Braunberger and his wife Margaret purchased the residence in 1923 and nurtured the catalpa trees that still mark the Fifth Street property line.  The home remained in the Braunberger family until 1962.  


While the Baldwin house is not the most impressive on the outside, it was one of the first homes to be built in Kalispell by Marcus D. Baldwin and it stayed in the family for over 80 years.

Baldwin came to Montana from Ohio in 1885, appointed by President Cleveland as superintendent to the Blackfoot, Blood, and Piegan bands of the Blackfeet tribe in northwestern Montana.  Baldwin brought his wife, Sarah, and their two small sons to live at the agency on Badger Creek.  Baldwin's daughter was the first white child born on
Baldwin House
Montana's Blackfoot Reservation in 1888.  When the tribal elders first saw her, they exclaimed “Kokoa!”(which means “little girl” in the Blackfeet language) and that became her name.

Kokoa was named by the prominent tribal members Two Guns White Calf, Little Dog, Big Nose, and Little Plume, who are all historical figures. Perhaps the most well-known of the Native Americans who named Kokoa is Chief Two Guns White Calf, whose face is on the back of every “Indian Head” nickel.

Baldwin, who deserves partial credit for the founding of Marias Pass, moved to Kalispell when the town was platted in 1891.  He was a practicing attorney and prominent in the founding of Kalispell and Flathead County.  

The original brick front-gabled residence was built between 1891 and 1894 and the carriage house along the alley between 1899 and 1903.  Circa 1914, remodeling added a wood-frame second story and gambrel roof.  Many fruit trees once graced the spacious yard of this significant residence, which remained in the Baldwin family until 1973.  


Joseph H. Horn, a part-owner in the Kalispell Mercantile Company, built this fine brick home in 1897.  In 1905, he sold the property to Everit Sliter, the founder of the town of Bigfork, Montana.  Sliter had come to the Flathead Valley in 1889.  Having spent all his money on the purchase of land, he and his dog spent that winter in a root cellar.  The pair consumed 26 deer and Sliter traded the skins for other staples.  He later established one of the area's 
first orchards.
Sliter House

Before Sliter and his wife, Lizzie, moved to Kalispell, they briefly rented the home to architect Joseph Gibson and his bride, Effie.  When Sliter moved here circa 1908, he essentially traded places with Horn who took over operation of Sliter's hotel and general store in Bigfork.  From 1909 to 1917, Sliter operated a real estate business from the home.  

A truncated hipped roof, exceptional brickwork, gently arched windows, and decorative shinglework make this an outstanding example of late Victorian-era vernacular architecture and a primary element of the historic neighborhood.  Note:  Vernacular architecture is a term used to categorize architectural design which uses locally available resources and traditions to address local building and design needs.  Vernacular architecture tends to develop over time to reflect the environment, cultural, and historic context in which it exists. 

and design needs. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural and historical context in which it exists - See more at:
and design needs. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural and historical context in which it exists - See more at:


The owner and publisher of the Inter Lake, a weekly newspaper servicing the Flathead Valley, was the original owner of this prominent corner residence.  Robert M. Goshorn, his wife Alice, and their two children moved into the new home in 1900.  In 1907, their son Joseph, a Stanford University student, drowned along with two other Kalispell youths in a 
Goshorn House
canoeing accident near Seattle.  Robert and Alice Goshorn determined to stay busy, converting their weekly publication to a daily newspaper.  They sold the business in 1912, but it remains today the Daily Inter Lake.  Goshorn subsequently served as receiver (under the Taft administration) and as register (under the Harding administration) of the U.S. Land Office at Kalispell.

The couple also maintained a ranch and fruit orchard on Flathead Lake.  Their vintage Kalispell home features bay windows, diamond-shaped window panes, two porches, decorative shinglework, and partial shingle cladding, hallmarks of both the Queen Anne and Shingle styles.  A smorgasbord of surface textures -- clapboard, rough-cut stone, and shingles -- beautifully expresses Victorian-era taste.  Inside, a handsome staircase showcases highly skilled carpentry.


George Drew Residence
Love the porch on this house!!

Kalispell was only 2 years old when German immigrant Louise Sels and her son Ed had this cross-gabled Queen Anne style residence built in 1892, a year that saw over a hundred homes built in the new town.  Louise Sels soon sold the house to her son-in-law Arthur Burnes, but according to the 1900 census, she continued to live in the home with her extended family.  The household included her three grown children, granddaughter, son-in-law, and his mother.  

Josephine Richards and Ella Bel owned the house between 1902 and 1905, renting out "nice large front rooms" to gentlemen.  The distinctive horseshoe-shaped porch was added between 1903 and 1907.  The home's longest occupant, Maude Drew, lived here between 1905 until her death in 1959 at the age of 89.  A year after she and her husband George bought the house in 1905, they installed a brick sidewalk.  The local newspaper lauded this improvement over the standard wood sidewalks and predicted, "Other property owners will note the manner in which the walk wears with much interest."  


I do love Craftsman Style homes -- this is one of my favorites.  

Shed dormers, exposed rafter tails, wide eaves supported by brackets, a flared chimney, and a full-width front porch mark this circa 1913 home as a Craftsman Style residence.  Native rock and molded concrete ornament the full basement.  Interior features include built-in cabinets with leaded glass doors in the living and dining rooms, a fireplace of Kalispell brick, and walk-in closets (all but one with windows that open).  
Ernest M. Child Residence
The house was likely constructed for Frank Johnson, a cashier at the Conrad National Bank, who owned the residence until 1918.  Ernest and Helen Child lived here from 1920 until Ernest's death in 1941.  Born in DeKalb, New York, Ernest was a prominent attorney who arrived in the Flathead Valley from Wisconsin in 1905.  Helen, a Minnesota native, was called a "singer of note" at the time of their marriage in 1906.  During the Child's occupancy, the exterior was elegantly landscaped.  In 1936, the Kalispell News published a detailed description of the yard, which it called "the beautiful garden of another 'Home Beautiful'."


Carpenter William Williscroft owned, and possibly built, this one-story, hipped roof cottage between 1891 and 1897.  He likely intended it as an investment property because by 1900 renters occupied the house.
Webert House

Sometime after 1950, owners replaced the full length front porch, stuccoed the original brick veneer, and exchanged the original one-and-one half story alley apartment for a two-car garage.  Otherwise, the home looks pretty much as it did at the end of the nineteenth century.  

Peter and Rena Weberg bought the home in 1906.  The couple had arrived in Kalispell in 1898 and raised three children here, occasionally renting out a room "for the summer only", perhaps to tourists attracted to the area by Glacier National Park.  In 1916, Peter became city treasurer.  He was re-elected to that position for 29 years until his death at age 85.  Rena was an early member and president of the Ladies Aid of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and an active member of the Republican Women's Club.  She made her home here until 3 years before her death in 1966 at age 93.  


The Hockaday Museum of Art displays the art and culture of Montana with an emphasis on the artists of Glacier National Park.  The museum maintains a permanent collection and offers rotating exhibits by nationally renowned and emerging artists, in addition to a permanent exhibit of Glacier National Park art and culture.  A Discovery Gallery provides hands-on activities for children that change along with the rotating Exhibits.
Hockaday Museum of Art

The Hockaday Museum is housed in a turn-of-the-century Carnegie Library Building that is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.  The more than 100-year-old building, now handicapped accessible, has undergone significant renovations to create a sophisticated museum setting while retaining the building's historic beauty.

In 1967, the Flathead Branch of the Montana Institute of the Arts explored the need for a community art center in the Flathead Valley.  Area residents responded enthusiastically, and on February 10, 1969, the Flathead Valley Art Association opened the Hockaday Center for the Arts as a community art center in the Carnegie Library building.

The art center was named for Lakeside artist Hugh Hockaday (1892-1968), who had moved to the Flathead Valley after a successful career as a commerical artist, and who passed away during the conversion of the Carnegie Library to an art center.  In 1998, the Hockaday Center changed its name to the Hockaday Museum of Art to reflect its new focus as a museum.  


From the very inception of the frontier hotel business, there emerged in the Flathead Valley a hotel known for it's finer amenities, the Kalispell Hotel.  In 1912 the Kalispell Hotel hosted the relatively well-to-do traveler at a charge of $2 per night.  This was considered twice the going rate of other hotels at this time.  However, being situated in the heart of Kalispell's downtown business district and offering such privileged services as running water, door locks, and wake-ups, the Kalispell Hotel rarely hung out its vacancy sign.  The three story brick structure, designed by Kalispell architect Marion Riffo and built by local contractor B. Brice Gilliland, has stood through the years as a silent sentinel to the changes in the Flathead Valley and downtown Kalispell.  During World War I information about the war was shouted to crowds of people at the corner of First and Main.  In 1919, the City of Kalispell installed a water fountain on the corner where the hotel still stands.  The fountain emphasized the importance of the First and Main intersection.  On weekend nights, the Opera House crowd would gather around the fountain and frequent the Hotel lobby.

Modern Kalispell Grand Hotel

Frank Bird Linderman, a noted writer, leased and managed the hotel from 1924 to 1926.  Famed artist Charlie Russell and author. Irvin S. Cobb were good friends of Linderman.  On occasion, they took lunch together and then would saunter back to the hotel lobby's stuffed leather chairs where they would sit exchanging thoughts and stories of the West.  

Linderman, who lived the life of a true plainsman, migrated up the Missouri and continued overland to settle in Kalispell.  He later wrote books and novels that are eagerly sought after by book collectors across the country.  Charlie Russell's work is world-renowned and today, found only in the finest art galleries.

Through the years a number of individuals have owned the hotel.  In the 1930's the hotel owners planned extensive renovations including the addition of a fourth floor and what would have been Kalispell's first passenger elevator.  These renovations never occurred; however, between 1939 and 1941 the interior of the Kalispell Hotel was remodeled.  According to a contemporary newspaper description: "....The modern hotel room of today has to be definitely different than that of some few years ago, as most of the traveling public of today carry radios and electric razors in its luggage, and demands box springs and inner spring mattresses for sleeping comfort.  An entirely new plan of interior decoration has been carried out that is highly attractive to the eyes and gives the guest who steps within its hospitable doors an immediate feeling of physical well being and luxury as well as appealing to his aesthetic sense."  
Current Kalispell Grand Hotel

During more recent decades the hotel fell on hard times and was reduced to taking in weekly, monthly, and even hourly tenants.  In 1989 a major renovation began that brought the hotel back to vibrant life.  The 51 "bath down the hall" rooms that had rented for $120 to $150 per month, were transformed into 40 rooms with private baths.  

The hotel reopened to guests in 1991 while renovation of the lobby continued.  Today, the sweep of the original lobby can be seen, including the original oak stairway and the high, pressed-tin ceiling.

Early in Kalispell's history there were eight downtown hotels.  Today only one remains -- the Kalispell Grand Hotel.  Inside the gracious lobby, the Kalispell Grand still awaits its guests who can readily envision the life and history of a bygone era.  The Kalispell Grand Hotel -- a living landmark in downtown Kalispell. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014


I first posted this article at the end of April, 2011.  Since that time, I've received comments from multiple people giving me further information about some of the homes, and correcting some of my historical facts (guess not everything in Wikipedia is factual).  The east side of Kalispell is very historic and extremely beautiful.  Wide, tree lined streets with these exquisite, historical homes.  

So I decided to re-post the article with pictures, and include the new information.  Again, the bulk of the information about the homes was taken from the Montana Historical Plaques.
Kalispell was founded in the spring of 1891 when Charles Conrad purchased land from the Reverend George Fisher and other early settlers for the Kalispell Townsite Company, of which he was the chief stockholder and managing director.  Some who doubted that this company would ever touch the new settlement, dubbed it "Collapsetown" and "Wait a Spell".  Even so, lots sold for as much as $1,250. 

On New Year's day of 1892, the Great Northern Railroad tracks officially reached Kalispell.  The town was designated the temporary county seat of Flathead County in 1893.  It did not become the permanent county seat until the election of November, 1894, when the voters of the county selected Kalispell by a large margin, much to the disgust and chagrin of Columbia Falls.  Kalispell became an important trade, financial, and service center.  

One of the famous buildings in the downtown area is the Kalispell Hotel (on the National Registry).  It was designed by architect Marion Riffo, who also designed many of the beautiful homes and mansions on the east side of Kalispell.  And this post will feature many of these beautiful east side homes.  

According to the East Side Historical District, "As the town of Kalispell ended its first decade in 1901, the Kalispell Bee reported that the artistic and modern residences would well ornament a much larger city.  Dozens of spacious Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and vernacular style East Side homes had by now erased the hay meadows that once covered the town site."

And one of the most famous homes was Charles E. Conrad's 72 acre estate and mansion, designed and built in 1895 by Spokane architect Kirkland Cutter.  He designed the beautiful shingle style design, with four native stone chimneys serving eight fireplaces, stand and mullioned glass, hardwood interiors, and many up-to-the-minute conveniences.   

Conrad Mansion
Charles, and his brother William, moved to Montana from their Virginia home in 1868 at the age of 18.  They were employed by, and then bought, L. G. Baker Company, a merchantile and freight business.  In 1892, they expanded this business and ventured into banking, founding the Conrad Brothers Bank.  

It was Conrad's business association with James Hill that helped influence the Great Northern Railroad to come to the area, which founded the city of Kalispell.  Charles Conrad did not get to enjoy his beautiful home for long -- he died in the home in 1902.

The following homes are all located right around the Conrad Mansion, and Charles Conrad's son lived in two of them.


Architect Franklin M. Morgan left a trail of buildings he helped construct from Billings to Miles City and Great Falls.  Many were the first buildings in these fledgling communities.  Little of Morgan's work remains, but his own Kalispell Residence designed and constructed in 1892 is a fascinating study in change.  
Morgan House

Originally a striking Queen Ann style home, owner William McDonald had the exterior remodeled in 1924.  The dramatic emergence from the Queen Ann style to the Colonial Revival included alteration of the cross-gabled roof to clipped gable, squaring the original floor plan to make it more symmetrical, and the addition of classical details, including Tuscan columns and circular windows.  The transformation was almost complete, except for the remaining two story canted bay on the east, which betrays the Queen Ann origins of this significant house.  This home sits across the street from the back of the Conrad Mansion.

Newlyweds Kokoa Baldwin, daughter of Kalispell attorney Marcus Baldwin, and Charles D. Conrad, son of the wealthy Charles E. Conrad, built and settled in this 3-story wood frame home in 1907.  The comfortable front gabled residence with it's combination shingle and 
clapboard siding, wrap around porch, and square columns

Conrad/Tobie House
was reportedly architect designed.  Tradition has it that the porch was built in Spokane and brought here in 1907.  After the Conrads divorced in 1915, Alba and Francis Jurgens Tobie purchased the home.  Alba Tobie was president of the Conrad Bank and Mrs. Tobie, a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, was an artist of some renown.  She filled the home with her work.  The vivacious Mrs. Tobie combined art with a busy career that included women's page Editor of the Kalispell Bee, proprietor of the Kalispell Gardens, and many professional affiliations.  In 1945 Chet and Jewell Chrisinger bought the property.  Chet grew up in the neighborhood and as children, he and the Conrad's son played together in the Conrad Mansion.  The Christingers and their four children maintained the historic home for over 50 years.  


 Real estate and insurance agent Charles Griffith arrived in Kalispell in 1891, four months after the Great Northern Railroad established the town.  An important member of the young
Griffith/Conrad House
community, Griffith served as city treasurer and was a founding member of the 1892 Kalispell Volunteer Fire Department.  Sometime between 1891 and 1897, Griffith built a relatively small one-and-one half story home on what would become one of the city's most prominent corners.  After 1903, but before 1910, Griffith and his wife Ella dramaticaly expanded the residence, adding a large, two story addition to the front of the house and a smaller, one-story addition to the northeast corner.  When the Griffiths sold the house in 1918, it became home to Francis McGee, the Kalispell Bee's local and society editor.  Charles D. and Agnes Conrad lived here by 1922.  President of the Conrad National Bank from 1920 to his death in 1941, Charles D. was the son of the prominent Charles E. Conrad, whose mansion across the street is now a museum.  Members of the Conrad Family lived in both homes into the 1960's.  

NOTE:  This is the same Charles D. Conrad who lived in the Conrad/Tobie house which is right across the street.  Charles divorced Kokoa Baldwin Conrad and married Agnes.


NOW....I am going to focus on homes on the east side that were designed by Architect Marion B. Riffo.  As mentioned, he designed the Kalispell Grand Hotel, which is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings.  These east side homes are beautiful!!!


The Keith House was built in 1912.  The house is also known as the Loutherback Home and
The Harry C. Keith House
was designed by architect Marion B. Riffo as a Colonial Revival Style.  This home was listed on the National Registry in 1987.  I have searched the Internet, but have not be able to find much information about this home.  I did receive an e-mail from Nancy Palmquist who said her husband's grandmother lived in the house and was a Keith.  I am hoping to receive more information.  

Most of the homes have a historical plaque from which I got most of my information, but if this home had one, it was probably 

attached to the front of the house, and I didn't want to walk up to the front door.  

The home did have a unique children's playhouse which is designed to look like the home -- very cute!!


Architect Marion Ruffo demonstrated a flair for the dramatic in this grand residence, built in 1910 for State Lumber Company manager David Barber.  The home features tall prominent
Agather House
chimneys against a steep, side-gabled roof, which capture
Side View of Agather House
the attention of even the most casual passerby.  Varied exterior treatments include half-timbers, native rock, and ornate ironwork.  After a series of tragedies decimated the Barber family, Alfons and Martha Agather purchased the home in 1919.  Russian-born Alfons, who had served in the imperial guard of Czar Nicholas, was the cashier and eventually became president of the First National Bank of Kalispell.  Martha, a daughter of Julius and Mary Neils of the J. Neils Lumber Company in Libby, worked hard to keep the home after her husband's death in 1929.  Their daughter Margaret, who grew up here and later owned the home, could remember "when the house was on the very outskirts of town and most of the Eastside was a grassy field...."  The home remains in the family today because of Martha's perserverance.


Dr. Albert and Minnie Brassett built this house with money given Minnie as a wedding present by her father.  Constructed in 1911, the comfortable Craftsman style bungalow 
Albert Brassett House
reflects the fashions of the day.  Craftsman style houses abound in Kalispell; this one, designed by local architect Marion Riffo, features a full-length front porch, wide eaves, a flared brick chimney, and a shed dormer.  A well known physician, Dr. Brassett opened his practice in Kalispell in 1909 and performed the first surgery at Kalispell General Hospital.  He retired in 1954 on his eightieth birthday, having served in some cases as family physician for three generations.  Before buying one of the first automobiles in Kalispell in 1913, Dr. Brassett walked to attend his in-town patients, including those at Kalispell General.  The hospital's location two and a half blocks away likely influenced the Brassetts' choice of building site.  The Brassetts raised two children here.  Their long-term residency testifies to the home's fine design.  Minnie and Albert both lived here until their deaths, hers in 1952 and his in 1956.


A blend of the Prairie and Craftsman styles illustrates the creative genius of Kalispell architect Marion Riffo, who designed and supervised the construction of this exceptional residence between 1909 and 1910.   Craftsman style characteristics include prominent knee
Elliot House
 braces supporting the eaves, heavy piers, stucco siding, and Tudor half-timbering.  Wide eaves accentuate the low-pitched hipped roof.  Banded windows create a horizontal emphasis typical of the Prairie style.  The use of natural colors and materials establish the Prairie ideal that a home should blend into the landscape.  Northwest Lumber Company treasurer, Charles Dobner and his wife, Agnes, were the first owners of this "unique and artistic" Kalispell landmark.  William and Ellen Elliot lived in the home from 1917 to 1938.  During World War II, it served as winter headquarters for Glacier National Park, and housed the office of Price Administration, and provided classrooms and a dining hall for Civil Air Patrol cadets.  From 1948 to 1964, it was the residence of Dr. Neil and Marian Leitch.  In 1964, Dr. Harry and Mary Gibson purchased the home.  



Originally I believed this home was called the Kramer house -- and you can find pictures of this home on the Internet under Kramer House.  Thanks to an "anonymous" reader, I found out this home was in the Matt Himsl family for a very, very long time.  Knowing this, I was able to research some additional information about the home, and eventually found it on the Montana Historical page under "Conlon House".  I've pieced this information together, and hope I am correct.  
Conlon/Himsl House

Pioneer merchant James Conlon commissioned architect Joseph B. Gibson to design this stunning Georgian Revival style home in 1914.  The home was built for Conlon's wife, Mary.  He owned a merchantile and livery stable that was on the side street (off Main) where Glacier Bank now sits.

Amenities within the home hint at the upper-class lifestyle enjoyed by the Conlon family.  From the balconied portico outside to the mahogany staircase lifting grandly in the center of the home, this home was built to impress.

The house originally had a carriage house with a butler's quarters upstairs.  It is believed the carriage house was moved to northwest Kalispell.  A deactivated butler/maid buzzing system with pop-up numbers for the room soliciting service remains in the home.  Sliding pocket doors open to reveal the many original features including fireplaces, ceiling coffers and other woodwork carved from mahogany.  Innovative features include a woodbox concealed in a hall seat that is served from a basement dumbwaiter and a dining room radiator with a built-in food warmer.

An interesting historical fact:  The remnants of a built-in vacuum system remain visible in the house, although the metal was removed and donated to the war effort.

The home was purchased by North Dakota banker Mr. B. M. Wohlwend in 1945 for his wife, and his daughter, Lois, who was newly wed to Matt Himsl.  Both families lived in the home for a number of years, until after the 5th child was born.  At that time, the Wohlwends moved to a home nearby.  Matt and Lois met when Matt, as superintendent of schools, hired Lois as a teacher in Broadus.  The couple moved to Kalispell where Matt bought a half interest in Wohlwend Motors, a Dodge dealership.

Matt Himsl became a well-respected member of the business community, serving as a director of Conrad National Bank (now First Interstate Bank) and owning part of KGEZ radio until 1995.  He was a twenty-four year Republican legislator to both the Montana House and Senate.  Friendly neighbors have called this beautiful home the "Embassy" for it's inviting grace, warm interior, and cordial owners.

In 2007, after almost 60 years, the elegant Himsl home was put up for sale.  This beautiful salmon-colored neo-classical mansion is memorable to many for the large angel spotlighted unter the portico each Christmas.  


Described by the Flathead Herald-Journal as "an elegant mansion" in the "colonial style", this residence's overall symmetry and small gabled front dormers are typically Colonial 
Revival.  However, the two-story turret, elaborate stained glass windows, and wraparound porch (reconstructed from photographs in 2003) reflect the popular Queen Anne style.  Such architectural combinations were common around the turn of the century.  Rancher and businessman J. L. Box planned and supervised construction of the two-story brick home in 1894, but he and his wife lived here only briefly.  In 1896, Warren Ashby Conrad purchased the
residence for his bride, Caroline, whom he met when a nationwide railroad strike stranded her in Kalispell.  Ashby -- younger brother of Charles and William Conrad -- was an officer of the Conrad National Bank.  After Ashby's death in 1922, Caroline rented the home to tenants, including Lelia Brown, who used it as a base from which to explore Glacier  In 1929, George Noffsinger, manager of the Glacier National Park Saddle Horse Company, purchased the residence, where members of the Noffsinger family continued to live until 1944.  

My own personal observations -- loved the wrought iron fence, the lion sitting on the rock wall, and the old fashion gas lights.  


Railroad superintendent William B. Green built this elegant home between 1891 and 1894, using bricks intended for the Great Northern Railway's depot.  A lien was placed on the home when railroad officials made the discovery.  Green was fired but remained in Kalispell undaunted.  Subsequent early owners included Flathead Herald-Journal founder John Moore (early 1900s), the George and Elida Bjorneby family (1916-1926), and Iver and Florence Hanson (1926-1936).

Green / Bjoorneby House
Originally constructed in the Queen Anne style, the home is a striking example of remodeling in a different style.  In the 1940's, the home was transformed from the "product of the gay nineties" into a fashionable Tudor style home.  Removal of a wraparound porch, additional of an attached garage, and the application of stucco and half-timbering almost obliterated its Victorian-era origins.  The asymmetrical roofline, a lovely stained glass transom, and ornate interior woodwork, however, remain from the 1890's. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cold Day at the Penguin Plunge 2014

Yes, it was a COLD day!!  It was 5 degrees when the Penguin Plunge started in Whitefish, MT.  But there were a lot of plungers with big, warm hearts -- to be jumping into freezing water for the Special Olympics.  This is an annual event and this year it raised almost $31,000. 

This year's theme was "Viva Las Vegas" and there were a few "Elvis" costumes, and many plungers sporting "bling".  One group even did a high stepping dance before taking the plunge.  It is fun for all -- particularly the spectators. 

Oh yeah.....Elvis is in the house!!
While the plungers are the main focus of this event, it is part of the Whitefish Winter Carnival.  So we have "Royalty" plus the other characters that go along with the Plunge and the legend of the carnival (see the post from January 11, 2014).  The Royalty consists of King Ullr and his Queen of the Snows, The Duchess of Lark, and a Prince and Princess (and unfortunately for these two, they plunge every year).

The Whitefish Winter Carnival "Royalty"

And along with the legend, we have other characters -- a fierce band of snowmen called "Yeti's" who attempt to kidnap the Queen, and generally cause chaos and general harassment.
This fierce "Yeti" appears to have been collecting pins from the Olympics
"Just where is that Queen?  You head that way and I'll head this way....."

And while the Penguins are not a part of the Carnival legend, it is, after all, a PENGUIN Plunge.

HEY.....would you mind getting that horn out of my ear?
Of course, safety is of paramount importance.  And we want to make sure all the brave plungers make it out of the freezing water safely.  So there are divers and many brave rescue firefighters who stand in the water and help the people out. 
One of the two divers, with a rescue rope attached

There are awards given for the plunger with the most pledges, the team that raises the most money, the largest team (which always goes to the group that wears the strange masks -- and I have pictures), the best costume, etc. 

Through my pictures, I plan to give my own awards.......and the winner is......


In keeping with the "Viva Las Vegas" theme, this team attempted to look like show girls.  My favorite part is the fishnet stockings the men are wearing (you might not be able to see those).  But they attempted a "high kick" dance before plunging into those icy waters. 

Attempting to look like a Vegas chorus line, we have feather boa's and fishnet stockings

Get those legs up there guys!!  I'll give it a 5.3 score. 

And regardless of how high you kick -- you must PLUNGE!!

There's always one in every crowd who wants to say they plunged -- without plunging!!  And she even wore her tutu.  Admirable try.

Run, run, run.....and maybe you won't get wet.....



Why take a chance of going under that water and having to be saved?  Just jump right into the arms of the rescue person.  SMART!!  

She looked right at this rescue man and said "catch me"

Undoubtedly the "happiest" face of the day


A Denver Bronco's fan -- need I say more?
I guess after the poor showing by the Bronco's, this fan decided to punish himself by plunging

And how nice.....he brought a friend

Go Bronco's fan.....Go!!!

We have a tie.  There were some amazing faces coming out of the water.  Did you really not think it would be freezing?  These are adults, and they are responsible for their choices.  But I felt very sorry as parents actually let small children jump into that water.  Really.....what were they thinking?  

OMG!!  It really is cold. 

Yes.....this poor little girl is crying.  Thank goodness this brave rescue worker gets her out of the water quickly.

There were a lot of teams, but these guys really stood out -- at least the blond did.  Getting into the spirit, they had a cardboard, life-size Elvis poster with them (not shown)Plunge baby, plunge!!

Not sure how this costume is "Vegas", but it should have STAYED in Vegas

Is that a cry of joy?  Or a cry of "OMG, it's freezing".

Actually, there is a "too chicken to plunge" category.  If you really don't want to jump into the water, you can still gather pledges to help the Special Olympics -- and you don't have to get wet!  I think this plunger was suppose to be a chicken, although it looks a lot like a bald eagle.  Oh well.....they showed up, and then walked off.  SMART CHICKEN!!

OMG!!  OMG!!  Fooled you....I'm NOT jumping.

The Eagle/Chicken took time to say "hi" to the kids standing in front of me.
So a good time was had by all.  COME TO MONTANA -- yes, this is how we spend our winters.  You've got to have some fun if you live in the snow.