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A more modern take on the old Clack House


March 18, 2002

This beautiful Neo-Colonial house represents sort of a transition in Hi-Line homes. Built in 1947, it is a newer Havre home, and instead of the traditional Colonial lines of its sister house the H. Earl Clack house next door, its lines are more modern. That is, after all, what Neo-Colonial is all about. As "A Field Guide to American Homes" puts it, this style "differs in showing less concern for precisely copying Colonial prototypes."

First, a little history about the house. It was built for Kenov and Josephine Logensgard. Josephine was the oldest daughter of H. Earl and Margaret Clack. Hence the houses were next door and, while not identical, were similar in many respects. An architect from Missoula, C.J. Forbis, designed the house.

Since 1986, Richard and Garnet Bergren have shared the house with their children, Julia and Kyle. Both children are away at college this year, leaving the parents home alone.

The vestibule, entrance hall, living room and dining room are almost a copy of the Clack house next door.

The hallmarks of the first floor are lots of windows, all multi-paned, lots of bold colors and gleaming hardwood floors. It might be 10 below outside but inside it is warm and a fire is crackling in the living room fireplace.

When the Bergrens bought the house, they had heard tales of $700-a-month heating bills so their first concern was a better heating system. And like most older homes, it has been something else ever since.

"We could not afford to live in this house except for my husband's talents," Garnet Bergren said. "He is a handyman and has done everything that needed to be done around the house."

Right now, Richard Bergren is thinking of how to utilize the third-floor attic. He thinks that if he opened that space, the family would gain some 1,200 square feet to add to the 4,700 square feet of living space.

"We disagree about that project," Garnet Bergren said. "Projects have slowed down since we have both kids in college."

"The house used to be the money pit," Richard Bergren added. "Now its the kids."

This house is huge by any standard. The first floor consists of a living room, dining room, vestibule, center hall, kitchen, full bath, master bedroom and office. The second floor includes three bedrooms, 1 baths and much attic and built-in storage space. The basement features a huge recreation room, pool room, bedroom, bath and utility room.

Both Bergrens agree on one thing. They love all the space in the house. Garnet Bergren likes lots of colors, and the rooms are so large that she can use dark colors and the rooms still look spacious. She said she and her husband fight about those colors but she is always right.

No fight about the downside of the house though.

"It is trying to keep it up and the utility costs," Garnet Bergren said. "Every time we plan to do something, it ends up a bigger job. It always costs more and takes longer than we had planned."

A word about those hardwood floors.

"In 1991 my husband thought that he might lose his job at the railroad," Garnet Bergren said. "The house was not nearly ready to sell and we thought we might have to move. The carpets were worn out so we pulled them up and redid the flooring."

To this day, that flooring is one of the most outstanding features of the home.

Sources for this story were "A Field Guide to American Houses" by Virginia and Lee McAlester and a Montana Historical and Architectural Inventory Form for the house prepared for Bear Paw Development Corp. in 1988 by Richard Bernstein.


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