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Lake McDonald Lodge - Glacier National Park - Montana

Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park - Montana    

Lake McDonald Lodge is a three-and-one-half-story structure built on the eastern shore of glaciated, picturesque Lake McDonald. The lodge building has a rustic, Swiss-chalet style with clipped gable roofs, balconies on the upper stories, and jigsawn detailing. Principal building materials for the structure are stone for the foundation and first-floor walls, with a wood-frame superstructure. Some of the interior structure around the lobby and first-floor porches is heavy-timber framing. The main wing at the north end of the building is generally rectangular in plan and contains the impressive lobby, gift shop, cocktail lounge, and a few guest rooms. The main gable is intersected at the north and south ends with perpendicular clipped gables that contribute greatly to the building's chalet character. The two upper stories contain guest rooms.


South of that main portion are the dining-room and kitchen wings of log and wood-frame construction respectively, with poured-concrete and concrete block, and stone foundations. The dining-room wing may pre-date the rest of the lodge. These one-and-one-half-story wings have low, intersecting gable roofs and minimal detailing so that the viewer's eyes remain drawn to the Swiss feeling of the main lodge building. The multiple roofs of the main lodge section, and the kitchen and dining-room wings are finished with wood shingles.

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The originally exposed stone walls of the first floor are now finished with off-white stucco. The upper stories are finished with wood clapboarding painted brown. Bands of painted wood decoration wrap around the structure and visually separate the different floor levels. The building's multiple balconies and verandas also contribute to the chalet feeling. On the east side of the building at the entrance, the posts edging the veranda and supporting the upper balcony are heavy milled timbers with bracket-type capitals. On the west side, the veranda facing the lake has log post-and-beam construction. The rustic feeling is reinforced by the bark that remains on the logs.
   Lake-McDonald1.jpg (350◊250)LakeMcDonaldLodgeShore.jpg (350◊250)


Over time the balcony railings of milled lumber in lozenge patterns have replaced the original rustic log railings on the west side. Those on the east side that were originally milled lumber in a series of simple vertical balustrades have also been replaced with lozenge-pattern railings. Windows in the main section add architectural interest to the structure. Those in the stone walls are segmentally-arched openings with paired, multi-light wood casements. Those on the second and third stories are paired, multi-light casements, while those in the attic gable ends are multi-light casements with a low, horizontal emphasis that reflects the available interior space.

In an architectural sense, the front elevation of the building is actually the side facing the lake. Entrances on the east side that allow access to the building's lobby do not have the strong architectural emphasis that usually defines a front entrance to a major hotel.

The lobby is the most architecturally significant space in the structure. The concrete floors are scored in imitation of flagstone and have incised messages in Blackfoot, Chippewa, and Cree that translate into phrases such as "welcome," "new life to those who drink here," "looking toward the mountain," and "big feast." The lobby is a large, open space three stories in height. Balconies surround the upper portions of the lobby on three sides. In each corner of the lobby are a trio of tall cedar columns that stretch uninterrupted from the ground floor up to the third story, where they are topped with round capitals cut from slightly larger logs that in turn support the exposed roof structure. Additional log beams and brackets support the balconies. Railing-s around all of the balconies are logs in a repetitive patterns reminiscent of Stick Style railings. The main structural logs of the lobby retain their bark.

On the east wall of the lobby an inglenook-type fireplace of enormous size has Indian designs scored and painted in the masonry above the opening. The lobby edges of the inglenook are surrounded with a log framing similar in design to that of the rest of the lobby. Directly above the fireplace is a large multi-light window that allows considerable natural light into the lobby. The chimney for the fireplace is off-set to the north and is visible on the structure's exterior. The staircases from the lobby to the upper stories have gnarled log newel posts and jig-sawn railings.

All of the guest room doors and hallway entrances are framed with a dark-painted wood molding that extends in L-shapes from the corners, again contributing to the rustic Swiss detailing.

Lake McDonald Lodge Reservations - Click Here 

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