Johnson / Lee House
The northwest area of Kalispell was undeveloped when carpenter Erick J. Johnson bought this property in 1911. Johnson, a cabinetmaker for Lew Switzer, had built this Craftsman style residence by 1913, likely doing much of the work himself. The Greene brothers of California promoted the style, which was widely publicized through magazines and pattern books. It was especially popular in Kalispell from 1907 to 1928. The quintessential Craftsman bungalow called for varied, natural materials and subtle detailing that allowed the home to virtually “sing into the landscape.” This exceptionally well-maintained example illustrates the ingenuity of its builder. The modest home is sheathed in a combination of narrow clapboard and shingles, an effective yet inexpensive way to add textural interest and emphasize the horizontal orientation characteristic of the Craftsman style. Wide overhanging eaves supported by knee brackets and an inviting full-width open front porch with square columns on wooden piers further reinforce the stylistic dictum. Interior finishes that reveal Johnson’s carpentry skills include a plate rail in the dining room and the original stairway banister. A diamond-shaped window in the entry adds individuality. One of the very first residences in the neighborhood, its street address, listed in early directories as the “end of 2nd Avenue West North,” reflects the rural character of the area when the home stood without neighbors. Johnson owned the property until 1929, when he sold it to cabinetmaker Benjamin P. Lee, a co-worker at Lew Switzer’s.