Rostad House

By Beacon Staff

The early 20th century was a time of great change in the Flathead Valley. For example, when this home was finished, sometime before 1903, the shores of Flathead Lake saw the passing of company steamboats hauling freight and Kootenai canoes covered with elk skin, just the same.

And as always in times of change, some things stay the same. And this fine Queen Anne home, on the corner of 1st Avenue West and 7th Street West, stands persistent in its original character and memory of its long-time occupants.

The home was originally owned by C.N. Brown, who in 1905, rented the home to Clarence and Clara Rostad. Clarence A. Rostad, was also known as “Rusty” Rostad. And from all appearances, things were going well for the Rostad’s. The house was a home to their family, including a daughter born in 1908.

In 1914, Brown sold the home to James Conlon, owner and operator of the Conlon Mercantile. Conlon was also Rostad’s boss for a spell, and continued to let the home to the family.

While the Rostad family was fortunate to stay in the home, a near-fatal misfortune would strike that year. A fire broke out on the second floor due to a faulty flue in the chimney. Rostad was burned during the fire and barely made it out alive.

It can be said (without much extension beyond the truth) that he was burned yet again by the fire department as they used chemicals to douse the fire, with extensive application, and as much damage was caused putting the fire out as the fire itself. Yet Rostad recovered, and so would the home.

Finally, in 1920, after renting the home some 15 years, the Rostad family bought the property, becoming its third owners, and remaining so until 1959.

In 1933, a baby girl joined the Rostad family, along with her older sister and older brother Robert, who operated his radio repair service from the home. Robert advertised a “Standard radio tune-up for only $2” and his proud membership in the “Radio Manufacturers Service” in numerous newspaper ads of the day.

Indeed, the Rostad family remained in the home more than 50 years, leaving an undeniable impression on the neighborhood and early history of Kalispell. Likewise, so did the home itself.

Putting the fire aside (perhaps with more ease than Rostad actually could), the home has been an anchor on the corner of this west side neighborhood. Its original structure remains, save for repairs from the fire, and an enclosure around the front porch.

With its persistence, it established a quiet tradition, for the home was a constant, a thing relatively unchanged during fleeting modern times when ways of life would come to pass, and new ones would come (and seemingly go) at break-neck speed.

The home still retains much of its original character. Still remaining are the unique floor-plan, varied siding patterns, decorative shutters and trim work, and a bay on the side spanning both floors – all hallmarks of the Queen Anne style – and all of which have survived more than a century.

This home with much of its original style – and the long legacy of its long-time residents – is one of those things that has more or less stayed the same, as the changes in the Flathead Valley seemed to have passed it by for us to still enjoy.

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

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