Wilbur and Celeste Graham built this hallmark Art Moderne style home in 1942. The style took its look from the modern means of transport that had captured the popular imagination in the 1930s. While the Depression had taken its toll on the country’s economic life, Americans were still proud of their technological prowess. In an expression of determined optimism, commercial 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 relatively rare in Montana. A building contractor, Wilbur designed this home 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 home features many of the elements that characterize the Art Moderne style: a flat roof with a small ledge at the roofline, 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 Grahams, who never tired of their stylish home, both lived here until their deaths, his in 1958, and hers in 2001.

Images

Graham House Graham House (PAc 91-51 Kalispell R42 F21). Front to side view of the house, facing northeast on 6th Avenue East. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Kathy McKay Date: Dec. 1992
Graham House Graham House (PAc 91-51 Kalispell R42 F22). Front view of the house, facing east on 6th Avenue East. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Kathy McKay Date: Dec. 1992
Graham House Graham House (PAc 91-51 Kalispell R42 F23). Front to side view of the house, facing southeast on 6th Avenue East. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Kathy McKay Date: Dec. 1992
Graham House Graham House (PAc 91-51 Kalispell R42 F24). Rear to side view of the house, facing southwest from the backyard looking out towards 6th Avenue East. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Kathy McKay Date: Dec. 1992
Graham House Graham House (PAc 91-51 Kalispell R42 F25). Rear to side view of the house, facing northwest from the neighbor's backyard looking out towards 6th Avenue East. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Kathy McKay Date: Dec. 1992

Location

825 6th Avenue East, Kalispell, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Graham House,” Historic Montana, accessed February 8, 2023, https://historicmt.org/items/show/510.