Southwestern Montana Ranch

When we're in Montana, we want to live differently than the way we do at home"-this was the directive the owner gave me to design four new buildings for his land along one of Montana's premier trout streams. Fly-fishing is a right of passage in his family, and a value he wanted to pass on to his children. It was also important that the buildings evoke the mythic West, without being of mythic proportions themselves. The owner didn't want these buildings to stand out from the landscape, which included many old homesteads in the river corridor. It was his goal to make these buildings a fit into the environmental and cultural traditions of the valley.

Main Residence - Click on photo for additional views.
At just about 1,500 sq. ft., the owners main residence was designed to look like a traditional line camp that can still be seen in the river breaks on many of Montana's large ranches, even today. Sited parallel with the river, the cabin is meant to involve the family with the environment-from it's abundant windows, to its full length porch facing the river, to an outdoor shower, shown in one of the additional views. The cabin achieves an aura of "history" by being detailed in a way that creates the impression of having been built in three separate stages.
Ranch Guest House
Guest Quarters - Click on photo for additonal views.
After the cabin was built, it was clear to the owner, like it is to most Montanans, that the relatives were going to want to come and visit, which created the demand for this building. In terms of guest quarters, the building has two bedrooms on the ground floor, a bath, laundry and entry vestibule. But the building is much more than just guest quarters. Also on the ground floor is a heated garage, space for maintenance equipment, and most important of all, the owner's fantasy fly tying room. The upper level is given over to a single recreation room, with places for cards, billiards, and a very traditional bar. The bar was designed from scratch for this project, and incorporates a fully functional kitchen for the use of the family and guests.
Ranch Guest House
Bunkhouse - Click on photo for additonal views.
The Bunkhouse was designed for additional sleeping and living space, and includes a bathroom. It's often used by the kids as a refuge from the adults.
Ranch Well House
Well House
Montana's recent bad fire seasons created the need for a well, pump, and irrigation facilities that couldn't be concealed in the space originally created in the Main Residence. Water purification equipment was also added to this building, which was designed in the tradition of early Montana well houses, and offers a material accent to the other buildings on the site.
Ranch Generator Enclosure
Generator Cover
An emergency generator to power the irrigation system and basic utilities wasn't originally intended to be covered. But it was clear that it created a jarring industrial image that this coop-like enclosure resolves.


Jeff Shelden, AIA
Lewistown, Montana
Prairie Wind Architecture, Project Listing, E-mail