Filed Under Kalispell

West Side Historic District

Small farms and orchards dotted the fourteen blocks of this residential neighborhood when the original townsite of Kalispell was platted in 1891. Soon a few wood frame buildings were constructed on its lots for temporary housing and to provide outlying farmers a place to stay during trips to town. By the end of the decade, property owners were replacing these with more substantial residences. The close proximity of the high school (1897) and the county courthouse (1903) helped spur the West Side’s early development. Large Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style residences mingled with more modest gable-front-and-wing style homes, each surrounded by wood rail and chicken wire, picket, or cast iron fences. Flower gardens and fruit trees adorned front yards while vegetable gardens, chicken coops, barns, and privies crowded back yards. By 1910, St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, designed by George Shanley, and the O’Neill House, designed by Marion Riffo, added distinction to the growing neighborhood. Shanley and Riffo, along with Judge Charles Pomeroy, author Margaret Scherf, and poet James Whilt were among the district’s prominent early residents. By the mid twentieth century, many outbuildings had been converted to rentals and larger homes to rooming houses providing accommodations for teachers and high school students living in town for the school year. The rent supplied needed income during hard times. Today the front porches that once offered residents a quiet refuge have mostly been enclosed or removed. Hollyhocks and sweet peas no longer line fences, but shade trees planted by the city decades ago and spacious front lawns preserve the original “homey” atmosphere of this early neighborhood.

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Location

1st Avenue West, Kalispell, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “West Side Historic District,” Historic Montana, accessed April 14, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/477.