Located in Kalispell, Montana, the Conrad Mansion Museum preserves the Victorian-era home of Charles E. Conrad, a 19th-century shipping entrepreneur and prominent area citizen. As an early settler and city leader of Kalispell, Montana, Charles E. Conrad rose to prominence as a shipping magnate, establishing a freight empire with his brother William that eventually extended routes into Canada and Washington Territory.
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After selling their share of mercantile company I.G. Baker and Company, the Conrad brothers were also centrally involved in a number of banking, real estate, mining, and cattle ranching ventures in the Kalispell area. As the city of Kalispell was a small frontier town with minimal amenities and services, Conrad turned to Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter to design a mansion for his family’s residence. Cutter, a leading architect in the American Northwest, was noted as the designer of the Davenport Hotel and a leading figure in developing Spokane’s Browne’s Addition neighborhood. He oversaw construction of the home, which began in 1892 and utilized German-crafted oak trim and paneling imported from the Midwest. The home was completed in 1895 and served as the residence for Conrad, his wife Alicia, and their three children for over half a century.
Following her parents’ deaths, Conrad’s youngest daughter, Alicia Conrad Campbell, endeavored to preserve the home as a living history museum, storing an extensive collection of original furniture, artifacts, and ephemera in the home as storage. Though she moved out of the residence in 1964 due to financial difficulties in maintenance, she retained ownership of the estate, and in 1974, the city of Kalispell accepted her presentation of the home as a gift, under the stipulation that it was not to be supported by taxpayer contributions. The Conrad Mansion Board of Directors was established to oversee the house’s operation as a living history museum, and in 1976, the home was opened for public tours.
Attractions and Tours
Today, the Conrad Mansion Museum is operated as a nonprofit organization, sustained by proceeds from tour fees and donations from private membership drives and fundraisers. As a historic home site, the three-story shingle-style mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 prior to its public opening. As a result of Conrad Campbell’s meticulous storage and record-keeping, the home has been fully restored to its original condition and is furnished with over 90% original family furnishings, including clothing, artwork, taxidermy, and children’s toys dating back as far as the 1880s.
Located in Kalispell’s Eastside neighborhood, the mansion sits on a three-acre landscaped plot on a bluff overlooking the Swan Mountains. A stone fence with iron gates surrounds the mansion’s grounds, which include groomed flower beds for perennial and annual plantings along with pruned hedges and evergreen trees. A gazebo also stands on the mansion’s grounds and may be entered by visitors.
26 rooms are showcased within the mansion’s interior, including nine bathrooms, three bedrooms, a music room, and a billiard and game room. Inside the home, original electric light fixtures are preserved, still equipped with carbide gas systems as a backup for electric power failure. Period technologies are showcased, including a dumbwaiter, a freight elevator, a radiator warming oven, and an intercom and speaking tube system for communication with servants. Several unique amenities are also preserved, including two drinking fountains made from Italian onyx and a wall-mounted Spaulding exercise machine built in 1895. Interior windows on the home’s second floor also feature Tiffany-style stained glass, and all bedrooms contain unique marble sinks and walk-in closets. A number of special exhibits of museum collections are showcased throughout the year, including items from the Conrad Family Firearms collection.
All museum tours are docent-led, and as such, self-guided exploration of the home’s grounds is not permitted. Food, beverage, cell phones, and photography are not permitted within the mansion, and all strollers must be left outside on the home’s porch area. Limited handicap accessibility is available on the mansion’s first floor, though upper floors are not accessible by wheelchair. Public parking and restrooms are offered across the street at nearby Heritage Park, and a gift shop is available during daily tour hours.
Regular season tours are offered between May and October, with tours beginning on the hour every hour and lasting approximately 75-90 minutes. Standard tour groups are limited to 20 participants. Off-season tours and specialty tours for school groups and organizations must be reserved in advance and scheduled directly through the museum’s offices. A variety of public special events are held at the museum throughout the year, including murder mysteries, ghost tours, and an annual month-long Christmas at the Mansion celebration. The mansion may also be rented for private special events, including weddings, teas and social luncheons, and business gatherings.
330 Woodland Ave, Kalispell, MT 59901, Phone: 406-755-2166