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Winter Wonderland

A chance encounter with history inspires the restoration of a storied high country cabin.

October 19, 2019

Boone Nolte, a strapping young Architect and avid outdoorsman has taken a rough and tumbled, falling down, 1000 square foot homestead from the 1880s and created a vintage vacation cabin, its authentic Old West patina polished with comfortable modern amenities.

Nolte, an architect with Locati Architects in Bozeman, Mt. (COWGIRL featured founder Jerry Locati’s home in our Nov/Dec 2012 issue) is a Montana native who earned his Masters in Architecture from Montana State University in 2003.

Classic Pendleton blankets drape cedar Adirondack chairs on the wraparound porch. Lanterns are from Restoration Hardware. Old power line horizontals were re-purposed for ruggedly beautiful porch rafters.

A man who enjoys the challenge of cutting-edge projects, Nolte spotted the dilapidated homestead in the distance one day while out horseback riding with his father-in-law. And he just couldn’t get the property out of his mind.

He was unable to get the image out of his mind. Picking up hay near Helena, Montana with his father a month and a half later was the perfect excuse to take a side trek to revisit the historic homestead.

Shed elk antlers gracing the mantel were gathered in the surrounding backcountry. Montana Moss Rock from Montana Rock Works in Harlowton, along with sandstone sourced from Frontier Stone Co. in Black Hawk, SD, make the hearth A focal point of the downstairs living area. The floor is milled white pine from Montana Timbers in Bozeman. The mantel is reclaimed distressed fir.

Nolte’s father, a surveyor for coal mining in Wyoming, often drew plans on an old-school drafting table during Boone’s childhood, and was a major influence in his son’s decision to pursue architecture. Upon closer inspection, father and son found the old cabin surrounded by almost impenetrable thorny brush, an assortment of livestock the only current residents.

The upstairs bedroom includes a queen size bottom bunk and a twin top bunk. The slanted panel sheltering the top bunk is reclaimed corrugated metal roofing that has been sprayed with lacquer to prevent chipping.

The cabin’s bones were there, if in disarray, but the interior revealed hidden treasures among the mountains of so-called junk; boxes of antique door knobs, locks and hinges, and cedar shingles. As fate would have it, the landowners who owned the property on which the tired cabin had rested for two hundred years were ready to sell their run-down bit of old Americana and the adventure began.

Nolte’s grandfather, a trapper and miner, provided the silver fox pelt on the wall. Sumptuous chocolate velveteen draperies from World Market add an affordable richness to the seating area. An antique glass railroad signal lantern sits on a simple but handsome heirloom table.

Nolte’s vision was to tear the cabin apart log by log, and then transport and reassemble it on the site of his family’s forty-acre property near Butte, Montana. The aim was to replicate the original structure as closely as possible.

An open stairwell, and a tongue-in-groove ceiling Nolte designed and built from timber slabs, reinforces the Cabin’s open, spacious feeling, despite its small size. The charming table and antique cane chairs are garage sale finds. A delicate lace tablecloth, languorous white tulips and etched crystal stemware contribute a feminine element that perfectly balances the rustic abode.

Nolte Senior came up with the charming and effective idea of identifying each log and its exact original placement with individual hand-stamped round washers driven into each timber with screws. And so Nolte’s work was literally cut out for him. As one can see from the images in this article, Boone Nolte was up to the task.

Paradise in a winter wonderland.

The multi-generational influence and regard for history is plainly evident on the exterior of the structure. Nolte’s grandfather’s traps hang on the siding of the little cabin, silent witnesses to the wild and challenging lifestyle from which it was born.

Photography by Audrey Hall.

(Originally published in the December/January 2014 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).

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