BOULDER — Down a dirt road, by the Boulder River and the Elkhorn Mountains, sits the Hall Bungalow as it has for more than 100 years.
Tresa Smith’s family has been in the Boulder Valley for generations, and the Hall Bungalow holds special memories for her—decorating the 17-foot Christmas tree each year, riding horses around the ranch with her brother.
“It’s paradise any time of the year,” Smith said.
The Hall Bungalow doesn’t just hold a fond place in Smith’s childhood memories, it also holds a place in Montana history.
The bungalow was built as a summer home by wealthy Chicago businessmen in 1917. It was only used for a few years before it was shuttered in the 1920s. By the time Smith’s family purchased the house in 1938, it had sat empty for nearly 20 years.
The Smith family preserved the home and even kept some of the original furnishings. The Hall Bungalow showcases craftsman and rustic architecture.
“Now, we copy this, but this was actually what was going on in architecture,” Smith said.
Upkeep on a more than 100-year-old log cabin is not easy—Smith describes it as “continual.” The chinking—which seals joints between logs—needs constant care, and the logs need to be oiled.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a happy thing to do,” Smith said.
The Hall Bungalow is one of the latest properties in Montana to be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. Montana has more than 1,200 listings on the register—a testament to the historic value of properties in the state, but getting a place listed is not easy.
“A lot of people think that listing a property is something they can do at the dinner table having a beer at night,” Montana National Register coordinator John Boughton said. “It’s far beyond that.”
There are criteria properties must meet in order to be on the national register. Applications often include a detailed history and description of the property, along with the history of its location.
“You’re really building your case about why your property is significant and why it should be listed,” Boughton said.
Smith worked historian Joan Brownell on the Hall Bungalow’s nomination. The 56 pages of documentation include information about the history of the Boulder Valley, the ranch the bungalow is located on, and the businessmen who built and owned the historic home. The nomination also talks about the home’s architecture.
Smith said being listed on the national register is important for preserving history and the Hall Bungalow.
“People are going to think before they turn it into a cowshed,” she said.
While Montana has a number of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Boughton said the Hall Bungalow is special.
“It truly is a hidden gem,” he said. “It’s an absolutely phenomenally beautiful building.”