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.
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
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