Park Service Awards $4M Contract to Rebuild Sperry Chalet

Construction to begin next month on badly burned iconic chalet in Glacier National Park

By Tristan Scott
The remains of the Sperry Chalet after it burned in the Sprague Fire, pictured on Sept. 1, 2017. Courtesy Glacier National Park

The National Park Service on Tuesday announced the award of a $4.08 million dollar contract to Dick Anderson Construction out of Great Falls to begin rebuilding the historic Sperry Chalet Dormitory in Glacier National Park.

The chalet was badly burned in August 2017 during the Sprague Fire that burned thousands of acres in the park. Construction will be completed in two phases, beginning this summer and continuing into 2019.

The National Park Service expects that work to begin in early July, and continue through mid-fall, weather permitting. The Denver Service Center, the NPS’ central planning, design, and construction management office, awarded the contract for phase one and will oversee the upcoming project.

Dick Anderson Construction was previously awarded a $1.5 million contract in 1996 to build an elaborate composting toilet at Sperry Chalet, as well as construct a new roof and other modifications. The toilet was removed about a decade ago because it never properly worked due to persistent cool temperatures at high climes

Today, the chalet utilizes a “Canadian barrel system” and barrels of waste are flown out at the end of each season.

The first phase of the project will include permanent building stabilization, including roofing and interior seismic walls. The work will complement Phase 2, scheduled for the summer of 2019, and provide additional protection as the chalet faces wind and heavy snow next winter.

The initial construction phase will be funded primarily with federal dollars. Subsequent project phases will be funded with a $1.2 million property insurance reimbursement, privately solicited donations from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, and additional federal funds.

The total cost is estimated at between $8 million and $12 million. The park service has set aside $12 million for construction.

Rebuilding of the Sperry Chalet on its original site was made possible because of the quick response and financial support of the Glacier Conservancy immediately after the fire. The Conservancy raised $200,000 for a “Phase Zero” emergency stabilization and preservation of the chalet’s stone masonry walls before winter set in. The response also reduced subsequent project costs.

“The outpouring of support for this project has been inspiring,” stated Doug Mitchell, executive director of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, in a news release. “We’re honored to help provide private, philanthropic support for this historic project.”

“The fact that we are here today to announce the award for Phase I of the Sperry rebuild speaks to the power of the Glacier community and partnership. Throughout our design process, we heard from visitors around the world about the significance of the Sperry Chalet visitor experience,” Park Superintendent Jeff Mow stated in the release. “I would like thank everyone who provided feedback and ideas about how we preserve that experience for the next 100 years. The award of the Phase I construction contract to Dick Anderson Construction puts us a long way towards that goal.”

The NPS will rebuild the Sperry Chalet Dormitory at its original site within the original stone masonry walls. The design will rehabilitate the chalet dormitory reflecting its period of significance (1914-1949). Some critical updates will include meeting current building codes where applicable, and improvements to life safety features including seismic bracing and fire resistant materials. The visitor experience will be very similar to what it has been for decades by using as much of the remaining historic fabric, and replicating historic finishes where practicable. For more information, please visit the Sperry Chalet webpage.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.