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  Comments (0) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
 
Green/Bjorneby House
Landmarks
Green/Bjorneby House. | Photo by JC Chaix
Kalispell was originally a railroad town. It was planned in 1891 as a division point along the Great Northern Railway. And like many houses in Kalispell, the home at 312 Sixth Ave. E. shares a history with the railroad – a very close history.

The building of the home began in 1891, the time when Kalispell briefly became known as “Harrington” when the postmaster named the town after himself (Kalispell became the official name on Jan. 2, 1892).

The home was built by Wesley B. Green, who later became the superintendent of the Kalispell Division for the “Great Northern Railway Line.” In June of 1892, the Great Northern announced plans to build a passenger depot in Kalispell with “the finest brick that can be obtained.”
As the railroad division boss, Green was in charge of building the railroad depot – while he was also building his own home.

And while Kalispell was rather open and sparse at the time, there must have been plenty of places where “the obvious” could hide. For if somebody had seen the obvious, they would have surely noticed that the railroad depot was made of the “finest brick that can be obtained” – and so was Green’s house.

Indeed, while supervising the construction of the railroad depot, Green took enough bricks to actually build his own home. And nobody made the connection until years later.

But considering that Kalispell was then “home of a horde of trainmen and trackmen” – and Green was their boss – it’s likely that anyone who figured out where the bricks went, had plenty of reason to look the other way.

Eventually, railroad officials discovered that Green had taken bricks for his own home (instead of the depot). Green was dismissed. And since the home was made with their bricks, the Great Northern put a lien on the home.

Ironically, a photo of the home was published in the “Great Northern Country,” a travel guide published in 1895 by the Great Northern Railroad. The photo of the W. B. Green Residence shows its original structure with a horse-and-buggy in the front – and practically nothing else around the home (it looks like a farmhouse on an open field).

Subsequently, during the early 1900s, the home was owned by John Moore, the founder of the Flathead Herald-Journal. Moore later sold the home to its other namesake, the Bjorneby family.

George and Elida (Retveit) Bjorneby lived in the home from 1916 to 1926. George Olaus Bjorneby, and his brother Emil, were proprietors of the Bjorneby Brothers Milling Company. They were well-respected and reputable businessmen of their day. George Bjorneby also holds U.S. Patent 1280377 for an “Improvement in Shock-Absorbers” issued in 1918. Undoubtedly, Bjorneby worked on the patent while at the home.

The home was later owned by Iver and Florence Hanson (1926-1936). The Hansons sold the home to high school prinicpal Titus Kurtichanov. In the 1940s, Kurtichanov hired architect Fred Brinkman to remodel “a product of the gay nineties” into a Tudor-style home, which was more fashionable during the early 20th century.

Brinkman removed the grand entrance and original wrap-around porch, and a garage and an addition were also added. Yet today, the home looks a little more like its original Victoria, Queen-Anne style.

The typical Tudor-style half-timbering that Brinkman added have been removed. The stucco siding has disappeared. And the asymmetrical roof line and stained-glass transom are still intact and provide hints of the original appearance of the home – a home with a lot in common with the railroad depot.

JC Chaix is a writer and certified home inspector and appreciates history, art and architecture.
 
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