Ferguson House

By Beacon Staff

At 320 Fourth Ave. W., stands a four–square cottage that harks back to the Victorian era with much of its original Queen Anne style.

Today, it’s an historical home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yet when it was built sometime around 1897, this cottage was a hallmark of the latest Queen Anne style during its height of popularity in the United States.

The home is known as the Ferguson House, named after its builder and first owner, Frederick Ferguson. Ferguson built the home while he worked for the Great Northern Railway, which came to Kalispell in 1891. It was a time when the United States was recovering from the Panic of 1893 and William McKinley became the 25th President.

Ferguson lived in the home with his wife Elsie and her son until 1904, when they moved to Whitefish, along with the Great Northern Railroad as it moved its division point there. Ferguson kept the home and rented it. And so the home began its long history as a rental property with tenants such as a Civil War veteran officer, a saloon–keeper, a painter and others.

And like the grandiose Queen Anne homes of prominent railroad tycoons, lumber barons, and copper kings, the home shares many similarities – on a much smaller scale.

For example, like many Queen Anne homes and mansions, the Ferguson home has a prominent front gable, layered eaves and a porch that covers the entire front of the home.

The cottage home also has some other elements typical of the Queen Anne style such as “fish–scale” siding, a sun–ray pediment, front columns with attractive spindle work, and a prominent chimney.

Perhaps Ferguson, an immigrant from England, was familiar with the Queen Anne style already popular in his homeland. Perhaps as a railroad employee, he was inspired by the homes of the railroad tycoons, or the Victorian–style railroad stations of the East. Or perhaps Ferguson was inspired by the stately Queen Anne homes of the prominent businessmen whose lumber, copper and goods were hauled by his employer, the Great Northern Railway.

Yet no matter his inspiration, Ferguson’s home left a legacy. The home was well-kept and remained in his family until 1971. Fortunately, the home still stands today for us to appreciate its Victorian –era, Queen Anne style and be reminded of bygone times in Kalispell’s rich history.

JC Chaix is a writer and certified home inspector and appreciates history, art and architecture.

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