Dean Rental Property

By Beacon Staff

Historic landmark homes come in all shapes, sizes and styles. The Dean Rental Property at 19 Fifth Ave. E. in Kalispell proves that even a small house can be a big part of local history.

In fact, this seemingly ho-hum cottage hides its historical significance quite well – a significance that helps explain the mystery of the carriage house that was once part of the Charles Conrad mansion complex.

Some folks may recall, whether from memory or photos, that the Conrad property once had an elaborate barn, carriage house and stable complex. These once stood more or less behind the mansion along what is now Woodland Avenue, with about another 70 acres of property that is now mostly Woodland Park.

The mansion and carriage house were designed by Kirtland Cutter of Spokane for Charles Conrad and his wife Alicia. Cutter designed the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair “Idaho Building,” a favorite among the crowd of some 18 million visitors (and he would eventually design several hundred significant buildings in Spokane).

The fanciful, turreted carriage house, where the Conrad’s night watchman once kept guard, seemed to have disappeared sometime after Alicia moved away in 1923 (Charles died in 1902 and was the first person buried in the Conrad Cemetery).

Well, the carriage house didn’t disappear. And it wasn’t hauled off for salvage either. In fact, it didn’t go very far at all – part of it is right here.

This house is one of the pieces of the former Conrad carriage house. It’s transformation, however, requires a bit of explanation.

In 1927, Alonzo J. Dean retired from his long-held position as manager of the J.C. Penney Store in Kalispell. While (still) president of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, rather than pass time idly by, Dean traded retirement for real estate investment.

In 1928, Dean seized the opportunity to purchase the Conrad carriage house, barn and stable complex. Perhaps he saw greater opportunity, perceiving that “the parts” were worth more than “the whole” as Dean divided up the massive carriage house into five separate parts that are now four separate houses and one business.

Dean converted and lived in “the turreted” portion of the former carriage house, which sits along Woodland Avenue (and has a wonderful history all its own). And he converted this section of the carriage house into a rental property to generate income.

In converting the pieces of the carriage house into their own unique, separate homes, Dean hired the help of Kalispell architect Fred Brinkman. And for the most part, Brinkman masterfully kept the parts of the original carriage house in tact, finishing them as necessary and adding facades inspired by the popular styles of the day.

With this house, Brinkman adapted the popular Tudor-Revival style. And even on a relatively small scale, the half-timbering on the sides of the front dormer at the steep-gabled roof, an arcade wing, and the arched entryway, are typical hard-to-miss Tudor-revival elements that adorn the house.

And unlike the barn and other parts of the carriage house, including the oak timbering that were shipped by rail to places beyond Montana, this section didn’t go very far, and remains quite close to two other sections (on the opposite block) with the other two still remaining nearby.

Fortunately, through years of different occupants and owners, this portion of the carriage house – and a home in its own right – has been well kept. Much like the historical secret it keeps safely underneath its modesty.

Jaix Chaix is a writer who appreciates history and architecture. You can share ideas and historical facts with him at [email protected]. Also visit facebook.com/flatheadvalleylandmarks