One of a continuing series of articles on Havre homes.
By Robert Lucke
Drive by the Gabriel house at 417 Ninth St. and even the most casual glance will tell you that it is unique for Havre and the Hi-Line.
Consider this. The house has a flat roof to begin with. And it is almost perfectly square with a small vestibule and addition in another square on the east side of the house. Not only that but the house is probably about as tall as it is long or wide. Add to that one of the most efficient floor plans to utilize 900 square feet per floor and you have a gem by any community's standards.
It is owned by Gale Gabriel and his wife, Nan. They share it with sons Jared and Tim along with the family dog, Blackjack.
The house was built in 1940 by Havre pioneer businessman George Gibson. Called the International style, it has a lack of ornamentation, focusing more on function than form, and is unique in that all main and second-floor principal rooms have large corner windows.
A word about the International style. One house book indicates that most examples of this style date from the 1930s and occur principally in the fashionable suburbs in northeastern states as well as in California.
In Havre it is unique not only because of its style. There were two other Havre homes that could be called International in style when they were built but have been so altered as to no longer be recognizable as even close to that style.
Also noteworthy is that this house is one of the few built in Havre after the Great Depression and before the end of World War II.
The main floor consists of a front vestibule with bath and laundry room, a large living room with open staircase to the second floor, dining room and kitchen.
The second floor holds three bedrooms and the original full bathroom. One small bedroom has so many windows that it resembles a sun room more than a bedroom. A full basement includes a large family recreation room and utility area with a half bath. When built, the house did not have a main-floor bath and laundry area. The original vestibule area was smaller and had a flat roof to match the main roof of the house. That is the only change that is outwardly noticeable.
However, like most Havre homes, change has been the name of the game inside. Gale Gabriel explains why.
"Every room has a project going on. We recarpeted the living room and went with the original hardwood floors in the dining room," he said. "We have replumbed everything and added a new heater and air conditioning."
Gabriel does not worry about the flat roof, a feature usually avoided in this part of Montana.
"We had a new rubber roof put on this fall," Gabriel said, smiling. "We should never have any problems with our roof."
The amazing thing is that the house from the outside appears to be tall and tiny. Yet, inside it is spacious, light and airy room after room. Some of that is due to many windows but a great floor plan helps too.
And most of all, a casual walk-through shows how comfortable it is for a Havre family.
"It is a nice comfortable house," Gabriel said. "It is not too large and not too small. Just in-between. And for us it is just home. I don't know how many times this house has changed hands but we are just trying to make our own mark on it and make it fit our family."
Research for this story came from "Havre's Historic Homes" by Jon Axline and "A Field Guide to American Houses" by Virginia and Lee McAlester.