In 1864, the U.S. government gave the Northern Pacific Railroad a land grant of almost 40 million acres, over 17 million of which were in Montana. In 1926, Eli and Tine Laird purchased a thousand of those acres from the Northern Pacific in the Upper Swan Valley. There they built Laird Lodge with the help of their son-in-law John Stark. In 1939, John, with a small crew, built his own home on land he and his wife Marie were given by her parents .3 miles from the lodge. John paid six dollars for larch logs, which he harvested from nearby Forest Service land and undoubtedly acquired the stone for the chimney locally as well. Construction was almost entirely completed with hand tools: axes, hand saws, crosscut saws, chisels, adzes, and drawknives. John’s skill as a homebuilder is particularly evident in the daubing, which overlays expertly cut split pole chinking between the logs. The interior, particularly the spiral larch log staircase with a curved sapling railing, also demonstrates John’s craftsmanship. The house doubled as John’s workshop, where he carved wood sculptures and crafted log furniture, which Marie upholstered. Many of their original pieces still furnish the house. Unlike hastily built nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century log cabins, which were intended to be replaced when time and money allowed, the Stark home was built to last. In this it resembled the Rustic-style log buildings that had become fashionable for vacation properties (like Laird Lodge), and which incorporated modern comforts while reflecting a nostalgia for simpler times.

Images

Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT View of front facade in winter Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Stark House, Missoula County, MT. On file at the Montana Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Steve Lamar, 2019. Date: 2019
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT View of north elevation Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Stark House, Missoula County, MT. On file at the Montana Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Steve Lamar, photographer Date: 2019
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT Interior view of wood spiral staircase Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Stark House, Missoula County, MT. On file at the Montana Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Steve Lamar, photographer Date: 2019
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT
Stark House, Seeley Lake, MT Interior view of log and leather furniture made by owners John and Marie Stark Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Stark House, Missoula County, MT. On file at the Montana Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Steve Lamar, photographer Date: 2019

Location

Private

Metadata

Montana National Register Sign Program, “Stark House,” Historic Montana, accessed May 30, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/3303.