Lookout home captures panorama of Glacier National Park
By DAVID REESE/Montana’s Finest Homes
Growing up on the shoulder of Desert Mountain just outside Glacier National Park, Somer Treat was in a forest paradise.
Mountains rise up behind her home, and across a wide valley of lodgepole pine forest looms Glacier National Park, where her family climbed the windswept ridges and peaks. This is where Treat made her home, creating a clifftop lookout just a few hundred yards from the family home where she grew up. As project manager for Old Montana Building Company, a design and build firm in Whitefish, she got to be the client this time.
This freed up the builders to create something very special for Treat. The two-story lookout has windows all around it, with amazing views into the Great Bear Wilderness and Glacier Park. In winter, Treat said, “It’s like living in a snow globe.” This was the first lookout that Old Montana Building Company had designed and created.
But the home reflects a smaller footprint and intricate design that the company has built a reputation around since opening in 2010. The firm focuses on smaller, detail-oriented homes. “This is a builder’s house,” Old Montana Building Co. owner Jon Krack said. “We didn’t try to control it as much, and the contractors who worked on it felt that, and knew it was a legacy project.” The home has a modern esthetic. It’s rich in glass, steel and concrete, but there are local connections to local suppliers. The entry features wood from a Creston-area barn, and the home’s woodwork comes from RBM Lumber, a local sawmill in Columbia Falls.
At less than 3,000 square feet, the home has an intimate appeal. “We put a lot of concepts into a small space,” Krack said. The home was built on a bedrock cliff, so it took some architectural engineering.
The site gets a lot of snow and wind. The home won the technical excellence award in the Flathead Building Association’s Parade of Homes. The home sits on a 28x28-foot foundation. “That’s the size of some people’s garages. For as small as it is, it has its own challenges,” Krack said. Krack came to Montana not as a builder, but as a Microsoft engineer.
He started as a developer in Whitefish then began his own design/build firm. “I didn’t grow up with a hammer in my hand,” he said. Treat, the project manager at Old Montana Build, studied art at the University of Montana and is a former photographer for Glacier National Park.
As part of the team at Old Montana Building Company, she said, “I get to be artistic every day. Clients give me their vision and I get to express it. It’s more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done before.” As a project manager in a male-dominated profession, Treat brings a unique perspective as a woman. “We’re usually building for families, and having a female in that process is huge,” she said.
"People are moving here for a reason. They want a piece of something authentic.”
That doesn’t mean she gets to be “the designer in the pink shoes,” Krack said. “She brings a lot of credibility to her job.” While she has an art background, she took four years of shop in high school. “I actually know how to use all these tools,” Treat said.
After a 2009 recession that hurt the real estate and construction industry in Montana, the building economy is coming back, Krack said. The industry is returning to 2005 levels, he said, and much of what is driving is that is families wanting to have a connection to Montana.
“People are moving here for a reason,” Krack said. “They want a piece of something authentic.” •
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