George Drew Residence

By Beacon Staff

There’s more to a house than meets the eye (much like judging a book by its cover). And there’s more to the history of a house beyond its namesake. In the case of the “George Drew Residence,” it seems to be quite the misnomer.

The home at 345 Fourth Ave. E. in Kalispell was originally built in 1892 – barely a year after the town itself had been platted and founded. As nearly 100 new homes were being built in the fledgling railroad town, German immigrant Louise Sels and her son Ed found the resolve to have this home built as well.

And so, this cross-gabled, Queen Anne home was one of the earliest built in the new town. It should be noted (and quite well considering the times), that the home was commissioned by a woman.

Louise sold the home to her son-in-law, Arthur Burnes, but lived there with the extended family. In 1902, Burnes sold the home to Josephine Richards and Ella Bell (note again, the home was owned by two women). Josephine and Ella rented the “large front rooms” to gentlemen until 1905, when they sold the house to George E. and Maude B. Drew.

As new owners, George and Maude made two remarkable improvements to the home. First, they likely added the distinctive, horseshoe-shaped front porch. “Front porch homes” were quite popular then. And it was a feature that added depth (i.e., status) to the front of the house, and a place to enjoy more idle moments.

Second, they removed the partial, wooden planking at the front of the house and installed a brick sidewalk – an improvement that was lauded in the newspaper at the time. A sidewalk may not seem like anything worth mentioning, but back then, it was a sign of commitment; a mark of permanence. It was a bold improvement in many ways, considering both the history of Kalispell, and the personal lives of the Drews as well.

George and Maude arrived in Kalispell in 1901. They established a dry goods and grocery store, known then as “Drew and MacDonalds.” As their business prospered, they purchased the home to raise their family. In 1912, they sold the store, but decided to keep the house and make Kalispell home.

As fate would have it, Maude would become the longest resident of the home. She lived in the home from 1905, until her passing in 1959, at the age of 89.

She outlived her husband George, who she petitioned for divorce in 1926, alleging his desertion (George passed away two years later, in 1928). Maude kept the home and raised her two children, Albert and Edna there. Yet sadly, Maude had to bear what no mother should: tending to the untimely passing of her son Albert, at the home in 1950.

In retrospect, Maude helped establish the business that would help pay for the home. She owned the home before she had the right to vote. She would help make improvements that literally “paved the way” for progress in the town of Kalispell. And she would reside in her home, before World War I, until after World War II, enduring hardships and raising her family all the while.

Yet despite such a history, a home first commissioned by a woman, then owned by two women, and kept for more than 54 years by the same woman, bears the namesake of a man: “George Drew.”

Jaix Chaix is a writer who appreciates history and architecture. You can share ideas and historical facts with him at landmarks@flatheadbeacon.com. Also visit facebook.com/flatheadvalleylandmarks

Take the “Historic Homes of Kalispell” Course
This April, Jaix will teach a course about “Landmarks” and historic homes of Kalispell at Flathead Valley Community College. Read more in the FVCC Community Education Classes brochure, call
(406) 756-3832 or enroll online at fvcc.edu.

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