Louis J. Kennedy, forest ranger for the Madison Basin, obtained the first permit to operate a business on this choice commercial property in 1910. Some protested the propriety of his successful application since his mother-in-law also obtained a permit for the choice lot next door. Kennedy Hall was first used as a dance hall. Equipped with a piano, the building hosted Saturday night dances for the entertainment of tourists, railroad employees, and locals. It then housed a summer restaurant from 1913 to 1916, and in 1919, local students used its lofty space as a basketball court. Sam Eagle, one of the town’s founders, acquired the building in 1933 and opened a curio shop managed by his daughter, Rose. In 1941, Rose married Herm Menzel who promptly went off to war. Upon Herm’s return in 1946, the store became Menzel’s Curio Shop. The log building features sawn, half-log vertical siding of red fir decoratively placed on the front façade. Structural log columns two feet in diameter support a gabled projection over the sidewalk and entry. The heavy timbered, rustic storefront is an unusual treatment for commercial buildings in Montana. Original interior features include bead board siding, a pressed metal ceiling, and crown moldings. Crag and Kurt Menzel, Rose and Herm’s sons and grandsons of Sam Eagle, manage the shop today. One of the few remaining buildings associated with Yellowstone tourism in the 1910s, the Kennedy Building is also significant for its distinctive rustic architecture.

Images

Kennedy Building
Kennedy Building Kennedy Building (PAc 91-51 West Yellowstone R09 F34). Front view of the building, facing north on Yellowstone Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Sept. 1980
Kennedy Building
Kennedy Building Kennedy Building (PAc 91-51 West Yellowstone R09 F35). Front view of the east side of the building, facing north on Yellowstone Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Sept. 1980

Location

127 Yellowstone Avenue, West Yellowstone, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Kennedy Building,” Historic Montana, accessed May 30, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/611.