The year 1908 was one of many years of grand development in Kalispell and the surrounding area. It was the year when Henry Ford produced the first Model T. Steamers that plied the waters of Flathead Lake towing timber and hay. And houses sprung up throughout Kalispell’s burgeoning neighborhoods – including the one built on the corner lot at 345 Fifth Ave. East.
This house was built by Gilbert Ketcham, the principal of Flathead County High School from 1902-1911. It seems fitting that Ketcham, known for his love of teaching, would adopt the Craftsman style. For the Craftsman style was not only a design or architectural style, it was a philosophy, and a way of life.
The Craftsman style rebuked the overly decorated, ostentatious grandeur of the Victorian style. And it paid homage to artisans and skilled workers who were seemingly made obsolete during the Industrial Revolution and their hard work, know-how and craftsmanship (hence, the name).
And in many ways the Craftsman style – and the home itself – tells the story about how homebuilding was no longer an activity for the upper class, but the middle class as well. In retrospect, it seems unlikely that Ketcham, a man who loved to teach and share knowledge of language, science and the arts, would have chosen any other style for his home.
After the home was built, Ketcham lived there for just a few years. He sold it to Lloyd Shulkin, one of the five Shulkin brothers who shared the home and worked together provisioning clothes and gear to loggers in the area.
In 1918, the home was purchased by its namesake: Adolph Anderson, a Norwegian immigrant. He lived in the home until his death in 1967, and the home remained in the Anderson family until 1980. While Adolph Anderson kept the same address, he certainly changed careers a lot. While living in the home for nearly 50 years, he worked as a real estate agent, oil company manager, service station owner and hotel keeper along with his sons at the Hotel Kalispell.
Today, many of the original style elements are still plain to see. For example, the home features vertical “blocks” of windows and other geometric design motifs traceable to Frank Lloyd Wright, who greatly influenced the style. A gabled dormer, another signature of the Craftsman style, sits atop the side facing Fourth Street East. And white rafters and brackets beneath the blue eaves reinforce the decorative simplicity that is the mark of a Craftsman home.
The style also plays with symmetry and numbers. And this house has some of these features. For example, there are four columns on the front “porch.” There are four steps to step inside the front door that has four windows on each side. And the bay window has four panels – with four, scrolled brackets underneath.
In addition to what’s on the outside, there are many stylistic elements inside the home, including arched entries between rooms, floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets, “lead windows,” and the styled floor heating registers.
Indeed, this home tells the story of the Craftsman style – not only in its design and construction, but also its legacy of residents who in many ways embodied the Craftsman philosophy as well.
JC Chaix is a writer and certified home inspector and appreciates history, art and architecture.
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