The Conrad Mansion was designed by Spokane architect, Kirtland Cutter, and was completed in 1895. The home’s exterior is punctuated by arches, long gables, bay windows and massive native stone chimneys.
The horizontal lines belie its 13,000 square foot Norman style interior, which features quarter sawn oak trim and paneling, eight massive sandstone fireplaces, and wrought iron dual purpose light fixtures. The windows in the home are consistently exquisite; diamond paned leaded glass windows are featured in most rooms, while several of the main rooms highlight colored & clear bottle glass, as well as 11 panels of Tiffany style stained glass.
On a more practical and innovative note, the house contains a freight elevator, a dumbwaiter, a warming oven, built-in fire hoses on each level, drying racks in the laundry, and a communication system: electric call box, intercom and even a speaking tube. Additional features are two Italian onyx cold water drinking fountains.
Original family furnishings are located throughout the 26 rooms (including three bathrooms). The Music Room features a hand painted linen border next to the linen ceiling. A second floor billiard and game room boasts a large bank of windows, window seats and oak paneling. The nine bedrooms each have their own marble sink and walk-in closet. Several service and recreation rooms are located on the 3rd floor, which is authentically restored (the home had no in-house servants’ quarters; their lodgings were in the carriage house).
Along with original furnishings and accessories, extensive collections include original family clothing, dating from the 1880s to 1940s, and three generations of children’s toys and dolls.
The home today sits on three landscaped acres, surrounded by a dry stone fence with iron gates. Six large annual flower beds and extensive ever-blooming perennial beds provide constant color during the summer season, with pruned hedges, evergreens, and spacious lawns serving as a lush background. A reconstructed log and cedar gazebo strikes a whimsical note.
About the Family:
Charles met his future wife, Alicia Davenport Stanford, in 1879. Her brother, James Stanford, was a member of the Northwest Canadian Mounted Police; he was also a friend of Charles Conrad, who operated trading posts in western Canada. James introduced him to his sister Alicia who had moved west from Nova Scotia with her widowed mother. A romance ensued, and Charles and Alicia were married in Fort Benton in January 1881. Their first two children, Charles Davenport and Catherine, were born in Fort Benton (1882 & 1884 respectively). Alicia Ann was born in Kalispell in 1892, and came to the new family home as a three-year-old toddler. It was she who would own and live in the mansion, and eventually give the house to the city of Kalispell in 1974.
One of Mr. Conrad’s projects when he arrived in the Flathead Valley was establishing the Conrad buffalo herd. As a Missouri River freighter and trader, Charles Conrad saw millions of buffalo hides being shipped down river to St. Louis. It concerned him that the buffalo were fast-disappearing from the American plains, so when he moved to the Flathead, he purchased about 50 animals and pastured them on what is now Kalispell’s Buffalo Hill golf course. In 1908, his farsightedness paid off; his widow sold 34 head of the best breeding stock to the American Bison Society. Those animals were taken 80 miles south to Moise, where they formed the nucleus for what has become our national bison herd.
Charles Conrad lived in his beautiful home for only seven years. He died in 1902 at age 52 from complications of diabetes and tuberculosis.