HELENA – Leaders say they are on track to have reconstruction work at Glacier National Park’s Sperry Chalet finished by October.
Gov. Steve Bullock hosted several stakeholders in the project Monday at the Montana State Capitol in Helena.
The National Park Service awarded a $4.73 million contract to Dick Anderson Construction to finish work on the historic building, which was badly damaged by the August 2017 Sprague Fire.
The company completed the first phase of the two-year reconstruction last year. The second phase is set to begin on July 1.
“The end of September, October, we hope that the construction phases are all complete,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “Then it’ll be a matter of the concessionaire, Belton Chalets, moving back into the facility and being ready to host the public.”
This year’s projects include masonry work, finishing the roof and completing the interior.
“We’ve made improvements to the building so that it’s structurally going to be more sound, it’ll be in better shape for the next 100 years – but we haven’t changed it so much as to change the visitor experience,” Mow said.
DAC chairman Dick Anderson said they will have between 20 and 25 workers, seven days a week.
The work is challenging, as crews have to hike seven miles in, and many materials have to be brought in by helicopter.
However, Anderson said he has had more volunteers than he has spaces to fill. He said his employees are honored to work on such an iconic structure.
“Projects like this, you have a big sense of pride,” he said.
Mow said former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke — who had previously served as Montana’s representative in the U.S. House — had worked to get federal funding for the reconstruction as quickly as possible and prioritized finishing the project within two years.
“We all knew it was a tall order,” he said.
Mow said it wouldn’t have been possible without successful partnerships. He thanked the Montana State Historic Preservation Office for their cooperation as they planned the reconstruction, beginning with the design process.
He said their assistance was crucial to getting the project done so quickly.
“If this project were entirely being done by the National Park Service, we would not have been able to accomplish it in two years,” he said.
He also thanked the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the park’s fundraising partner. He said the financial support they have received from Montana and beyond has helped the project move forward on time and under budget.
Bullock said he saw the Sperry Chalet project as an example of Montana communities’ resilience.
“When all was said and done at the end of the day, we didn’t give up – immediately we began to rebuild,” he said. “I’m really grateful for all of those at this table who are putting in that effort to rebuild Sperry Chalet.”
“So it will be not something we remember as a tragic moment, but as something that will give people in Montana, around the country and around the world memories long after any of us are sitting at this table,” he continued.
The Sperry Chalet’s kitchen and dining hall will still be open this summer. They are primarily serving the construction crews but will also be open to the public for lunch.
-Jonathon Ambarian reporting for MTN News