Kath Williams + Associates Projects

Saddlehorn Marina

Flathead Lake
Bigfork, Montana
LEED NC v2.2
Owner:Saddlehorn LLC
Bigfork, Montana
Developer:The Averill Family/Flathead Lake Lodge
Bigfork, Montana
Builder:Montana Build
Bigfork, Montana
Architect:Doug Averill, designer
George Gibson
Energy Modeler:JE Engineering, Inc.
Kalispell, Montana
Commissioning Agent:JE Engineering, Inc.
LEED AP:Lesly Mroczkowski
Senior LEED AP:Kath Williams

Western pioneer and eastern Adirondack architecture mix in this new boat club, originally conceived as a community amenity for Flathead Lake Lodge, a 100-year-old dude ranch in northwestern Montana. Rustic stone walls and archway lead to a protected inner boat lagoon, which was refurbished after years of neglect. The  stone wall was rock from a neighboring quarry, crafted with care by local tradespeople. Bark-on cedar log posts and pavilion railing supports were milled from fallen local timber, harvested from bettle infested forests. All of the furniture is handmade locally, again from fallen timber.

Providing casual lakeside recreation space was paramount in designing this outdoor gathering space on the shores of Flathead Lake. The new Boat Club project evolved with the development of Saddlehorn, a residential community located across the highway from Flathead Lake Lodge. With sustainability in mind, the Saddlehorn Boat Club is now a shared facility for the residents of Saddlehorn development and the guests of Flathead Lake Lodge, both owned by the Averill family.

With limited operations, the Boat Club opened in June 2009. Since summer 2010 the boat club is serviced by shuttle for the homeowners of Saddlehorn development as well as the lodge guests who already park their cars for the week of "dude ranching". No parking for individual vehicles was provided as a strategy to encourage shuttle use, an extension of this family's long-time commitment to susetainable transportation - horses, h=jammers, antique fire trucks in place of buses - at the Flathead Lake Lodge, sister property to Saddlehorn.

Owner Doug Averill, 5th generation Montanan, feared that individual ownership of boats on Flathead Lake would have such a major environmental impact that a community amenity needed to be provided at a level that respected the lake and neighborhood capacity. He is now building a fleet of community-owned boats that are being serviced by a trained staff. Seven watercrafts were launched in the summer of 2009. The owner is focused on wind and solar-powered boats as the next additions to the collection.

The old gas station on site had provided the only service on the east side of the lake for over 50 years. When entire property was offered for sale, the gas station was closed and soon fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance. The access bridge, on the county road, had fallen into a dangerous condition. The school bus driver refused to continue to cross it so children walked to the main road side of th einlet for over two years.

Upon purchase, the Saddlehorn team immediately built a new bridge, using a salvaged container bed as base. The gasoline storage tanks were removed, the shoreline along the inlet was reinforced, and the old lawn flanking the lake was removed to protect the lake from grass clippings and weeds.

Although the Saddlehorn Boat Club is a private facility, the new gas station has welcomed all boaters on the lake. Visitors are welcome to use the restrooms and picnic on the lawn Even though the State of Montana and Flathead County would have permitted a public operation, the owners chose not to operate a public bar and restaurant out of respect for the neighborhood where this marina is located. The residents are long-time neighbors and friends of the Averill family and it would have been inappropriate to open a public facility that would bring traffic to this dend-end road, loud parties, and large numbers of revelers to the bay. This facility closes at dusk and only operates during the summer months.

Green operations and maintenance are essential in this facility. The chef - famous for his meals at Flathead Lake Lodge - chooses a simple menu for the Boat Club that incorporates local products (jams and jellies are very popular) as well as local meats, seasonal vegetables and fruits (like Flathead Valley's famous cherries.)

By August 30, 2009, the Boat Club was close to full operation. The winter months are spent planning activities and improvements for summer seasons to come.The first event was the hanging of the LEED plaque, documenting another step in the owner and project team's progress to sustainability.