By Robert Lucke
First, let's get one thing straight about the house at 624 Fourth Ave. that Bob and Lori Evans live in. There are no ghosts. In spite of persistent ghost stories about the house, the Evanses should know. They have lived in the house since 1988.
Built as a Craftsman bungalow around 1911, the original owner and builder was longtime railroad man L.W. Mack. By 1913 Mack had sold the house to George Bourne, an early-day Havre banker.
There were no substantial changes to the house until the mid 1930s, when it was sold to Charles and May Slyngstad. May Slyngstad was responsible for a major addition built onto the back of the house and transforming the interior into one of the most complex and beautiful of any Havre home, new or old.
French Provincial was May Slyngstad's style. She transformed the main-floor rooms into rooms filled with French arches, white oak woodwork throughout, a circular staircase to the second floor and French doors almost everywhere inside and leading outside of the house.
On the main floor alone there are five sets of double French doors and most of the rest are single French doors. The use of glass and mirrors is extraordinary. A music room projects out of the south side of living room with many more French doors. On the north side of the house, a den with massive fireplace opens out of the house with still more French doors. The effect of all the mirrors, doors, and arches in the principle rooms is stunning.
The first floor of the house contains a large entry porch, living room, dining room, music room, den, kitchen, bath and curved staircase. The second floor houses five large bedrooms and another bathroom. The basement has a large family room and hobby room along with the utilitarian rooms of the house.
These days Bob and Lori Evans live in the house with children Ryan and Ali, Scotch the dog and Shaq the cat.
Lori Evans has strong ties to the house as her parents once rented it from May Slyngstad, and she attended 4H meetings there when Howard Dolph owned it.
"The house was special way before we bought it," Lori Evans said.
The Evanses have done their share of making the house even more beautiful. In the kitchen they added doors out to a back deck and made the back yard into a place of beauty, complete with hot tub and rose garden. They also tore into the basement family room and turned a dark barn wood-sided room into a light, cheerful area to view the latest NFL game or gather together as a family.
Both Bob and Lori Evans have their favorite rooms.
"I think that the kitchen is my favorite room," Lori Evans said. "But when I am in the house alone, I like to be in the den. Bob really likes the basement. We needed it for him. He gets tired of an old house so we made the basement modern."
If there was an error in the house, it was the heating system. Registers are placed high up in the walls, leading to plenty of drafts on the floor.
Then there are all those windows. They are a lot of work. Lori Evans said there are some 15 panes to each door and there are nine French doors just coming into the living room. That takes a lot of elbow grease.
Since the Evanses have owned the house, it has been filled with their children and neighbor children.
"It has been a blessing to have a house this big, as everyone has always been able to have privacy," Evans added.
As to the ghost. No wonder he or she moved on. With Ryan attending the University of Montana and Ali attending Montana State University-Bozeman, imagine the hot times when Bobcats and Grizzlies are talked about. Too noisy for any self-respecting ghost.
Sources for this story included "Historic Homes of North Central Montana" by Robert Lucke and "Havre's Historic Homes" by Jon Axline.