Eclectic. Unusual. Unique. These terms accurately describe the home at 513 Third St. E. in Kalispell.
It’s eclectic, as in being designed in the “French Eclectic” style.
It’s unusual, as for being an architectural style that is relatively uncommon throughout the United States.
And it’s certainly unique, as a one-of-a-kind home in the neighborhood (if not all of Northwest Montana).
The French Eclectic style was fashionable during the 1920s and 1930s. Although some homes were built in the style even later, such as this one, which was built in 1941.
The style likely gained popularity as soldiers returned home after World War I and brought an appreciation (and perhaps a longing) for the various styles of homes found throughout the French countryside.
The original owner, Maurice Driscoll, built the house as a wedding present for his wife, Mary.
Maurice worked as a cashier for the First National Bank (the oldest bank in the Flathead at the time). And he was the son of Catherine and Michael Driscoll. Michael, the elder Driscoll, was a lumber pioneer and businessman who arrived in Kalispell in 1899.
Maurice enjoyed playing music – something he did frequently while entertaining guests in the home.
Newspaper articles from the late 1920s report that Maurice was featured playing “Mighty Like a Rose,” “Me and My Shadow” and other popular songs of the day as part of an instrumental trio on Flathead Broadcasting Association radio programs.
Maurice was also a member of the Montana Symphony Orchestra. And several “Local Society” newspaper articles of the day report of Maurice, Mary and their two daughters entertaining family and friends at the home, and Maurice treating his guests with music as well.
In building the home, Maurice commissioned renowned Kalispell architect Fred Brinkman, who designed many homes and buildings throughout Kalispell that are also listed on the historic register. Brinkman certainly left his mark on Kalispell – and certainly added unique flair to the neighborhood with this one-of-a-kind home as well.
Even at first glance, the house appears unlike any other in Kalispell, especially since it bears three hallmark traits of the French Eclectic style: a steeply pitched hipped-roof, a massive chimney and “through-the-cornice” dormers.
The masonry walls and circular window also add to the stylistic treatment, as does the columned porch with an eave that flares upward. And the home imparts more of a sense of understated grandeur than overstated lavishness that is somehow also part of the French Eclectic style as well.
But beyond stylistic traits and building characteristics, architecture is perhaps most meaningful when it conveys a sense of a different time and place.
And standing before this house, you could easily feel as though you’re thousands of miles away from Montana, and standing somewhere in France.
And perhaps more than anything, Maurice built and styled the home for his wife, so she could feel at home in Montana – just as much as in the French countryside.
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