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  Comments (0) Total Wednesday Apr. 16, 2014
 
The Elliot House
Landmarks
Photo by Jaix Chaix
The landmark, historic home at 828 Third Ave. E. in Kalispell was originally built around 1911 by Hiram Johnson. Johnson initially came to Montana in 1893 as a homesteader, and soon took up orcharding apples and cherries near Flathead Lake. Johnson was enterprising. His business blossomed. And he was soon selling produce door to door in Kalispell. And he later moved to Kalispell with his wife so their three children could attend public school there.

In 1917, the Johnsons sold the home to John and Elizabeth Elliot – for whom the house is named after. Likewise, John Elliot was an enterprising man. Along with his brothers (William and Tom) he owned and operated the “Elliot Brothers Company” dealing in general merchandise and wholesale groceries.

Sadly, John Elliot passed away in 1919, just two years after moving into the home. The Elliot Brothers enterprise continued to succeed, and eventually had “old reliable, one price” stores in Bigfork, Columbia Falls, Creston, Kalispell, Kila, Somers and Whitefish and took over other businesses such as the Flathead Commercial company and Yegen Brothers (of Billings).

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Elliot remained in the home until 1946. And she remodeled the home, giving it more of the appearance it has today, including a subtle – or somewhat annoying – design element (depending upon your asymmetry/aggravation threshold).

Overall, the home features obvious symmetrical and geometric patterns and elements that were popular in the early 20th century. For example, the gabled roof at the front of the house forms the shape of a triangle at the second story. The eave returns also create well-balanced, proportioned triangles – unlike many psuedo-historic commercial buildings and “McMansions” that often have eave returns that are way out of balance (or “just plain wrong”).

And while there’s obvious symmetry with the dormers at each side of the house, the window panes and other features, there is perhaps a bit of not-so-subtle asymmetry.

The front of the house was once an open, full-width porch. Elizabeth Elliot had it enclosed in 1927, as many other homeowners in Kalispell were remodeling as well. Indeed, like the rest of the house, there is much symmetry in the porch design: there are four columns flanked by a set of Craftsman-styled windows with symmetrical patterns. However, the front door is slightly off center – or way out of place – depending upon who you ask.

For some, asymmetry like an off-centered front door is what makes a home unique. For others, it’s enough to make them want to get a saw, level, and hammer and move the door over into its “proper place” at once.

But however the front door is reckoned hardly matters considering that the Elliot family legacy is an intrinsic part of Flathead Valley history. And that the “Elliot Brothers” not only left a mark, but defined early mercantile trade in northwest Montana.

And while the association with the “Elliot Brothers” is part of the heritage of this landmark home, its character was not just defined by the who “wore the pants in the family,” but by Elizabeth and the children as well.

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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