A 1929 report by the city of Kalispell’s water department described in giddy detail the cutting-edge architecture of a gorgeous new building on Fourth Street West and First Avenue West built by Sherman & Son. The report noted the woodwork’s ivory and mahogany flourishes, the striking French doors, the tapestry brick fireplace, the overall thoughtful tastefulness of the “beautiful and modern building.”
“It has dignified furnishings and architectural designs that give to it a touch of a home,” the city pronounced. “The structure is a credit to Kalispell; one which the city may well feel proud of.”
That’s high praise for a funeral home, but indeed it was an elegant edifice ahead of its time. Over the decades, however, time caught up to the building, and patchwork renovations by various owners weren’t enough to restore its full glory — that is, until the Lemire and Eisinger family took it over in 2018.
Beginning in February of last year, the family set about completely rehabilitating the Sherman & Son building, also colloquially called the “Ivy Building” by locals, led by the construction expertise of Erik Lemire, the interior design prowess of his wife Cara and her sister Christy Eisinger, and the fishing-centric vision of Christy’s husband, Ben Eisinger.
The Lemires have deep experience in restoring aging buildings from their years in the Bay Area construction industry, and they put it to use in transforming the old downtown Kalispell brick structure into a modern lodge with room rentals, a fly shop and an interior design company while staying true to the original architecture and themes. Construction was completed this spring.
“We call it a 100-year refresh,” Cara Lemire said.
Cara and Christy, who grew up in the Flathead Valley, run R&R Home, and their talents were on full display when the lodge and their interior design studio opened last month. Ben Eisinger’s True Water Fly Shop had already opened in November, but now the vision is complete with the completion of the Sherman Lodge at True Water Fly Shop.
The fly shop and interior design spaces occupy the first floor, while the Sherman Lodge is mostly on the second floor, where apartments were once located above the funeral home. There’s also one separate rental on the third floor, which is decked out with its own kitchen, bathroom and living spaces spread out across 1,200 square feet.
The second-floor lodge portion features four separate rooms and an inviting communal lounge with couches, a fireplace, a dining area and a large kitchen. The four rooms are named after Northwest Montana rivers: Kootenai, North Fork, South Fork and Middle Fork. The roof of the fly shop was reinforced, including with new trusses, and is now the base for an expansive outdoor deck accessible from the second floor for lodge guests.
Lodge bookings are already coming in for the Lemires and Eisingers. Cara notes that the lodge’s smaller size, and inherently lower numbers of people staying there, helps ease the implementation of COVID-19 precautions, including frequent cleaning. While the lodge is primarily designed to accommodate True Water’s clients for guided fly-fishing trips, it will also be open to others, including ski vacationers in the winter.
The fly shop is the only one in Kalispell, and Eisinger and his experienced team bring a deep knowledge base of Flathead Valley rivers and lakes and other western Montana streams to their guided trips. When Eisinger isn’t busy taking clients on the water, he’s at the shop, which offers fishing reports, advice and a range of gear and equipment, appealing to everybody from local fishing diehards wanting a few flies or tips before heading out to newbie visiting clients needing a full complement of supplies.
While strikingly modern, the Lemires were careful to stay true to the building’s 1928 architecture and honor tradition as much as possible, including by using the original oak flooring and outside brick, both of which were thoroughly refurbished. The remodel revealed garage doors along the alley fly shop space, which were converted into custom carriage doors.
“We had a great team of subs who were fantastic,” Cara said.
When the family purchased the building from Valley Bank in 2018, it had been sitting vacant and was “in need of some love,” Cara said. The Lemires and Eisingers were happy to provide that love in spades.