By Robert Lucke
When the Boedecker family drove past 321 Fourth Ave. last September, it almost missed the house as well as the "for sale" sign. But then family members saw the unique Colonial Revival on the alley, wedged between some law offices and the library, and it was love at first sight.
The fact that it was an apartment house with two apartments on the first floor and two on the second floor was not an issue. Before long, not only did they own it but they went about turning the apartment house into a single-family dwelling.
That in itself is unique in a world in which large houses are often times chopped into apartments. But that they did it without changing one iota of integrity is awesome.
It is an awesome family. Brooks Boedecker is the son of longtime Public Service Commissioner Lou Boedecker. Brooks' grandfather formed the Montana Highway Patrol. The family has been in Montana since before there was a Montana.
More about them, but first a little about the house itself. It is a difficult one to research because for some reason it was left out of the Historic District boundaries. However, a couple of things are known about it. It was built in 1940 by E.C. Carruth, the story goes. However, since he died in 1939, chances are it was built by his daughter, Cooley, who resided in the first floor north apartment for many years.
Carruth came to Havre around 1902 where he managed the Havre Hotel. However, his main interest was in locating land for homesteaders. Signs saying "Talk with Carruth" were posted all over town, and he'd talk about where the best land was. He went on to own the Havre Hotel for some 25 years. He married Ethel Dewar of Havre and they had two daughters, Jean and Cooley.
Judge Carruth, as he was called, was an interesting fellow and at one time had even won a world record for 100 miles on roller skates, 10 times around a 10-mile lap track. His record was six hours, 15 minutes and 30 seconds. That was in 1886.
Enough about Judge Carruth.
The house at 321 Fourth Ave. has been for most of its life a four-plex, However, for a time Witt and Loranger Reality shared the first floor.
These days Charissa, Brooks and Judd Boedecker live there along with their dog, Terra. Two daughters, Brie and Bekah, live in Missoula.
It all fits their lifestyle perfectly. They have named the four apartments the office suite, the great room suite, the lounge suite and the master bedroom suite. Each suite comes equipped with its own living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, not to mention numerous closets.
The main floor is reserved for Boedecker's business, Front Range Resources. One apartment serves as his office. The other serves as an entertainment center for clients and as a guest bedroom. Not only that but it all works. And it is downtown. That is important to a family that loves to live downtown.
"Being in oil and gas, we have lived in many towns and cities," Charissa Boedecker said. "Denver, Billings, Missoula, Great Falls. I love the convenience of living downtown. Why, here we are close to everything and can walk to anything we need. That is great.
"And we continue to downsize," she said. "We started with a 4,000-square-foot house and kept losing our children. We have lived in a log cabin with our teenagers, suburbia, and country club settings, but downtown, that is best of all."
The house is filled with original World War I posters along with calendars from Daddy's Place in Havre of all things. Neat.
They love Havre the town, the climate and the people.
"I am here to stay until they put me down," said Brooks Boedecker, smiling.
Research help for this house came from "Grit, Guts and Gusto" by the Hill County Bicentennial Commission, and "A field Guide to American Houses" by Virginia and Lee McAlester.