The work to continue rebuilding Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park gained fresh momentum Tuesday.
That’s when the National Park Service announced the award of a $4.73 million contract for phase two of the chalet’s reconstruction.
Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls, the contractor that handled phase one of the rebuild last year, won the contract for phase two.
The Sprague Fire in late August 2017 gutted the iconic chalet’s two-story dormitory and burned thousands of acres in the park. A detached kitchen and dining room structure escaped major damage after firefighters extinguished a spot fire in the eaves.
The National Park Service said Tuesday that work this year will begin in early July and continue through September 30, weather permitting.
In a news release, Jeff Mow, superintendent of Glacier National Park, expressed excitement about the imminent launch of the second and final phase of the Sperry Chalet rebuild project.
“We look forward to working with Dick Anderson again,” Mow said. “They provided exceptional service to the National Park Service and the public last year.”
Sally Mayberry, a public affairs specialist for the National Park Service, said federal regulations prohibit disclosing how many contractors bid on phase two.
Asked about criteria involved in the contract’s award to Dick Anderson, Mayberry replied, “This is a best value contract that has several factors in selecting the awarded party.”
She said the criteria are based on technical evaluation, past performance and price.
The second and final phase of the project will include masonry repairs, a permanent roof and all other interior work to complete the building and ready it for visitor use.
The park service anticipates the chalet will be ready for public overnight stays in 2020.
In June 2018, the National Park Service announced plans to award a $4.08 million contract to Dick Anderson Construction for phase one of the dormitory building’s rebuild.
Construction of phase one began July 9 and ended in October.
The Park Service credited the Glacier National Park Conservancy with playing a key role in responding quickly and generously to help save the chalet and build it back from near ruin.
It said the conservancy has contributed $396,148 to date and plans to contribute an additional $236,400 towards phase two.
Doug Mitchell, executive director of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, expressed appreciation for the nonprofit organization’s supporters.
“Since literally day one, private donors have stepped up from around the world to support this extraordinary public-private partnership to restore the historic Sperry Chalet,” Mitchell said.
He said the conservancy still has work to do.
“As of today, we have about $75,000 left to raise to fully fund the currently approved grant applications related to the Sperry Chalet project,” Mitchell said.
The chalet, completed in 1913, was built for the Great Northern Railway as part of the system of “grand hotels and picturesque chalets” in Glacier National Park after the park was established in 1910, according to the National Park Service.
At an elevation of about 6,500 feet, accessible only by trail, the Sperry Chalet’s rustic accommodations have occupied the edge of a glacier-carved cirque. A nearby talus slope provided stone quarried for the 23-room dormitory building and forests below supplied the original timber. The Great Northern Railway brought in Italian masons to complete the initial stonework.
After the 2017 wildfire gutted the dormitory, opinions varied about how to best respond. A few people favored simply letting the site return to a natural state. But most people supported reconstruction that would use the stone masonry walls still standing after the fire and retain the original building’s defining historic features and character while also adding a few new materials to enhance structural stability and fire resistance.
And that became the plan.
During phase one of construction, there were typically 16 to 20 workers on site during the summer of 2018. Crews lived in wall tents.
Belton Chalets Inc. will operate the Sperry Chalet Dining Room again this summer, serving work crews and the public. Lunch and a la carte services will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Breakfast and dinner will be available to the public via reservation by calling (888) 345-2649.
Park concessioner Swan Mountain Outfitters will offer horseback rides to the Sperry area on weekends.
Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4407.