The home at 628 Fourth Ave. E. represents long traditions of Kalispell’s past.
For starters, this grand home is a hallmark of the Kalispell Craftsman and an epitome of style in its day. The home was designed by architect Marion Riffio, who greatly influenced Kalispell’s styles.
Aside from the house, Riffio also designed the Kalispell Grand Hotel (the only original one left in town), the Liberty Theatre and many homes in the Kalispell area (even churches as far as Havre). The history of Riffio’s designs include this house – and a distinct mark on the Craftsman style in Kalispell.
The house also represents another long tradition: the Dr. Albert Brassett family. The Brassetts lived in their home until their passing, for 45 years. And for more than three generations, Albert Brassett served as a family physician in the Flathead Valley.
Brassett was born in Trondheim, Norway. As one of six children, he was “farmed out” of school to work on the family plot. He missed much learning, but not hard farming. He moved to the United States when he was 13 – out of steerage.
After school, college and medical school, he married his wife, Minnie (Larsen). They left St. Paul, Minn., and arrived in Kalispell on July 4, 1909.
When the Brassetts arrived in Kalispell, Albert Brassett hung a shingle. A couple of years later, Minnie’s father offered a tidy dowry: this house.
And while the home represents a distinct, Craftsman style, it also represents a Kalispell tradition: one of the first homes with an automobile. Before 1913, Brassett walked to his house calls and rented a horse and buggy.
The house was relatively close to the Kalispell General Hospital, where Brassett performed the very first surgery (actually, twice). He technically performed the first surgery. And when a larger operating room was added in 1949, Brassett was given the honor of the first surgery again.
The Brassett family lived in the house for more than 45 years and raised two children, Sylvia and Arnold. Unfortunately, Minnie (Larsen) passed in 1952. Brassett did not retire until 1954, on his 80th birthday. He passed away in his home in 1956.
The home has many appointments inspired by sensible design and pleasing aesthetics. For example, the home offered casual living (and competitive bridge games).
The full front porch also includes a dormer porch at the top. Along with the decorative wood trim, wide roof eaves, and decorative windows, the home also features a flared brick chimney and shingle and narrow siding, that accurately reflects its markings.
And aside from marking the Craftsman style, the house also represents another tradition of the Kalispell area: Dr. Albert Brassett, who served his patients for decades.
JC Chaix is a writer and certified home inspector and appreciates history, art and architecture.
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