By Robert Lucke
No series about historic Havre homes could possibly be complete without including the Broadwater Home at 500 Second Ave.
It is impressive without seeming to be pretentious, huge without seeming to convey that feeling and almost unchanged other than normal upkeep since it was built in 1910.
That is because since that time, the house has only been owned by two Havre families. The Broadwater family lived in the house until 1966 when family members sold it to Bunts and June Watkins. Today the Watkinses' daughter, Karen Myers, shares the house with husband Ken and their dog.
In style, it is a large Colonial Revival/American four-square house of three floors. To this date no one has been able to determine the meaning behind the ornate gold dragons above the front second-floor windows.
Edward Broadwater came to Fort Assinniboine to work in the post trader's store in 1891. Later, Broadwater, along with his partner, Simon Pepin, opened a store in Havre. The early-day capitalist built many of the buildings seen today in downtown Havre, but never was he more proud than when he gazed at the front facade of his house on Second Avenue. The house does that to people still today.
Karen Myers, who has lived in the house since she was a teenager, is getting ready for the holiday season. That is the time when this huge house really glows day after day. Around Thanksgiving she gets all her Christmas settings out and has the huge dining room table set permanently until New Year's.
"I set the table then to make the house a little more inviting," Myers said. "When we first moved in the house, it was Ken and me and the dog. Now with Kris having his own apartment and Karley being married, we are back to Ken and me and the dog."
If a huge living room and dining room were not enough, the house boasts a separate parlor across the hall from the living room. Even the kitchen and pantry floors are hardwood.
Consider the first floor. A glassed-in front porch leads to a vestibule, and then to a massive center hall with a sweeping staircase leading to the second floor. The windows on the staircase landing are stained glass and the woodwork throughout the first floor is oak. There is much of it. Across from the parlor there is a large living room with fireplace, a dining room that defies description with its wood buffets and plate rails, a pantry, kitchen, and huge sun room added by the Watkins family and just recently remodeled by Ken and Karen Myers.
"I really like having the parlor in the house," Myers said. "With it I know there is at least one clean room in the house. I put the Christmas tree in that room. And I think that the Broadwaters used that room as a music room. And when Mrs. Broadwater got sick and Katharine Broadwater broke her ankle, they put a bed in that room and never went upstairs."
Karen Myers still remembers that when her mother and father looked at the house to buy it, there were many extension cords running all over. They have extensively redone the electric service through the years.
"People often ask me if we have remodeled the house," she said. "I say no, except for the sun room. But there is a lot of upkeep. We do something every year just to try and keep up with it. This year I am doing the floors around the carpeting. And we replaced the wallpaper on the first floor. That was something, to build a scaffolding in the stairway."
The house has all of its stained woodwork and even all of the original light fixtures.
Like most old houses, this one has its quirks and quarks.
"Houses always have their own noises and this one does when the heat comes on," she said. "I remember as a teenager my room was on the third floor and the third floor stairs squeaked so I could never come in late. And with the back stairs there is no light. That is very dangerous. There is a lack of bathrooms with most of these houses and the kitchen has no counter space at all. I should have remodeled that a long time ago. I don't know how they made big meals in there for so many years."
The second floor of the house includes four bedrooms, a bathroom and balcony overlooking the rear of the house. The third floor has two more bedrooms along with a billiard room with the original Brunswick billiard table, which was put in before the house was finished.
The Myerses' daughter, Karley, and her family would like to be the next residents of the house, leaving the family connection intact. That pleases Karen Myers. All but moving out and leaving the house. She would miss it as much as her mother still does.
Some of the research for this story came from "Historic Homes of North Central Montana" by Robert Lucke and "Havre's Historic Homes" by Jon Axline.