The Moore-Slack House

By Beacon Staff

This simple, front-gable home was built between 1894-1899 and is certainly among the first residences in Kalispell. The house was originally built and owned by Cora (Brooks) Moore, a housekeeper, who was just 25 years old. It would be remarkable in her day for such a young woman to own her own home – and even more remarkable for her to own without the burden of a mortgage, as she did.

The home was built simple, fit and trim for raising a family. However, the neighborhood left a little to be desired. At the time, Cora’s neighbors included livery stables, saloons, and “women’s boarding houses” – which was then a polite term for houses of prostitution.

Like many other western towns, Kalispell had its own red-light district and places of pleasure. However, as times changed, the “red lights” were replaced by “stained glass windows” as churches were built and became the social anchor for many once-sultrier neighborhoods.

During the early 20th century, getting rid of social vices was at once a social and political pastime (if only to put things in their proper place). And while the boarding houses were demolished, and churches sprung up around it, this house stood still, as if refraining from judgment and keeping its own tradition of being a home for hard-working families and those more industrious.

In 1901, Claude Jump, who owned a livery stable just about a block away, rented the property. And in 1910, Ezra and Catherine Slack purchased the home. It was a retirement home for the Slacks, as Ezra worked hard founding and operating one of Kalispell’s notable realty companies.

Notably, the Slack family made several visits – by auto – a relatively new form of travel in Northwest Montana at the time. Ezra often shared information about road conditions with fellow motorists of his day. For example, a 1916 newspaper article features his report about the “mud-hole” just over the Lincoln County line on the way to Libby (it had dried up and caused little fuss, by the way). Indeed times were different then, and conversations in the front room were likely full of motoring, visits with friends and relatives, and other news and business of the day. Unfortunately, Ezra passed in 1918, and Catherine passed in 1924.

Afterward, it’s rather likely, that with new owners, and new churches in the area, the house was renovated somewhat (say for more convenient electricity). It is also likely at this time that the old porch at the back was removed, and a new porch (with Craftsman-style hints) was added to the front.

But aside from porch swapping, much of the original, basic footprint of the house remains the same. For example, on the inside, a close staircase still leads up to a pair of cozy bedrooms.
While the house may now seem to have a rather odd color scheme, the colors are actually quite close to the original paint schemes it once had, save for swapping the colors of the siding for the color of the fascia and other variations.
And much like judging books from covers, and houses from paint schemes, judging this house would render it much like a fortress – one that not only withstood drastic social changes during its time but also resisted drastic renovations that plunder older homes of their history and charm.

For today, we can still appreciate this house for its simple four walls, front gable, centered chimney and other signs of eras long forgotten.

Jaix Chaix is a writer who appreciates history, art, and architecture. You can share ideas and historical facts with him at landmarks@flatheadbeacon.com

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