The iconic Wright’s Kalispell Lumber building won’t be standing tall for much longer. The 22,000-square-foot structure built in 1939 will be dismantled over the next 12 weeks and reassembled at another location in Kalispell.
The Kalispell Lumber Co. is an historic local business, opening a mill on Fourth Avenue East north of the railroad tracks in 1904. The mill and lumber company later moved to its west-side location, and employed between 50 and 60 workers until the manufacturing facility closed in 1963. In 1979, Brad Wright purchased the facility and continued to operate the retail building-materials business for more than 30 years.
Once he closed the doors to Wright’s Kalispell Lumber, Wright sought out opportunities for preserving the historic structure.
“I was also concerned that, had the building been purchased for commercial use, the character of the building would be compromised because of the modifications that would be required,” Wright wrote.
A year-and-a-half ago, he connected with Tom and Kristin Davis, who purchased the building and plan to reconstruct it.
“The building is so unique and full of character. If there was a way to preserve it, Tom would find a way to do it,” said Kristin Davis.
“It’s very unusual for an old building like this to be preserved,” Tom Davis said Saturday.
The new owner said he expected it would take between four and five months to rebuild the structure, but declined to specify its new purpose. A press released issued by Heritage Timber stated that the couple hopes to open the rebuilt structure by Christmas 2018.
A six-man crew from Missoula-based Heritage Timber is deconstructing the building with an expected completion date in early November.
Heritage Timber owner Gary Delp said the Davises intend to preserve the building’s iconic tin roof which reads “Kalispell Lumber Co.”
“We have to mark all those pieces of metal so when they put it back up, it will say Kalispell Lumber,” Delp explained. “Everything will look as is, but I’m not exactly sure what their ultimate goal is. They really love the building and they’re really into local history and just wanted to own a piece of it.”
Delp said that by dismantling the old lumber yard, an estimated 90 percent of the materials will be fit for reuse in its second life.
“Recycling is great, but it’s not as good as actually using the material again,” Delp said. “Conventionally, the way that this would come down, there’d be about one percent (reused).”
The process of dismantling the landmark is “mostly just a lot of hand labor,” Delp said, although he’ll be using a crane to take down the trusses that support the roof, which peaks at 35 feet off the deck. “It’s dangerous work and we take every precaution that we can to keep people safe,” he said.
Reporter Mackenzie Reiss may be reached at 406-758-4433 or firstname.lastname@example.org