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The Madison S. Love Residence
Landmarks
Photo by Jaix Chaix
At first blush, writing a story about the “Love Residence” around Valentine’s Day may seem “canned” and “cliché.” But (as you may have guessed), there is a bit more to the story – and this house – than meets the eye.

The residence at 535 Third Ave. E. in Kalispell may seem “odd” at first sight – and that was the very point of its design. Indeed, the house is a fine example of Shingle-style architecture, a style quite rare in the northwest, yet quite common along the Eastern coast, where the well-to-do spent their summers.

The Shingle style was an off-shoot of late Victorian ideals and aimed to be big and bold, yet disguise mass and form with surface. It was a style very much concerned with opposition and contrast, yet at the same time, manifesting overall semblance. And as philosophically challenging as that sounds, so too is perhaps embracing a hallmark of the style: asymmetry – features of the house that seem “off kilter” (yet that were completed with much purpose).

For example, the massive front gambrel roof tends to hide the details of the front porch below, or the contrast between the sharp, recessed roof eaves and the arched, Palladian window. And somehow in the overall impression of the home, “form” tends to conceal “detail” – much how “time” tends to conceal the “history” of the house as well.

The residence was the home of Madison “Matt” S. Love and his wife Alice (née White). They arrived in Kalispell in 1899, at a time when many other Midwesterners found themselves seduced by the bright promise of “the West” and moved into the home in 1909.

The Loves seemed to be a good match – despite a few contrasts (much like their house). For example, Alice was fair-skinned, and fair-handed. She was a talented artist, who for years painted fine porcelains and china (and primmed herself with a proper lady’s touch of embroidery and lace).

In contrast, Matt had rather large, rough hands, the proof of hard work from pulling up his work pants and suspenders, and twisting a pipe wrench (as much as clutching a cigar). Matt was a plumber for many years and only stopped working – at the age of 74 – when his wife Alice sadly passed in 1940.

Together, they helped others learn a lesson or two. Like other homeowners during the Great Depression era, the Loves proved that survival and sacrifice somehow shared similar meaning. They rented out their home to make ends meet and eventually lived in their converted garage in the back.

The Loves also helped others learn, as they often rented the home to school teachers, such as Mrs. (Lucretia) Davis and Mr. (Ertel) Shotwell, who likely planned a lesson or two in their respective apartments.

The Loves continued to rent the home until 1940 when they both passed away. Alice was buried on Feb. 14, 1940 (yes, a woman named “Love” was buried on Valentine’s Day in Kalispell). Several months later, Matt unfortunately passed as well – at the age of 74 (yes, 74 years ago, a man named “Love” died at the age of 74, seven months after his wife).

Sometimes in life, as in art (architecture), there are odd contrasts and coincidences – things that defy proper explanation or expression of understanding – that somehow “make sense” and deserve our whole-hearted appreciation.

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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