The Great North­ern Es­cape

Florida na­tives leave sun and sand be­hind for the ul­ti­mate re­tire­ment dream in Mon­tana.

Log Home Living - - Favorite Spaces - story by BROOKE FISHEL pho­tog­ra­phy by JOSEPH HIL­LIARD

Re­tire­ment of­ten con­jures up im­ages of warm re­treats to places like Florida or Ari­zona dur­ing the harsh win­ter months. For Phil and Irene Manassa, that was not the case. They wanted to move north.

A Florida na­tive, Phil had trav­eled ex­ten­sively out West for work and re­lax­ation. “Mon­tana was al­ways my fa­vorite. I went through there again in 2000, and it hit me that this is where I wanted to be.”

The dream be­gan when he pur­chased his property north­east of Mis­soula in 2002. He be­gan ex­ca­vat­ing in 2007 and in May of 2008 he started con­struc­tion on his beau­ti­ful four- bed­room, 3 1/2bath log home.

From the start, Phil was 100 per­cent in­volved in the de­sign process. “Over the years, I sub­scribed to mag­a­zines like Log

Home Liv­ing to help me fig­ure out what I wanted,” he said. “I lit­er­ally tore out pages from the mag­a­zines when I saw things I liked and put them to the side for con­sid­er­a­tion when it fi­nally came time to de­sign my own home.”

And, while he says he may not have the big­gest log home in the area, he fre­quently re­ceives com­pli­ments from other log home own­ers on the amount of per­sonal de­tail found in the beau­ti­ful carv­ings and trim work through­out.

This in­tri­cate de­tail­ing, which took more than three years to com­plete, in­cludes elk tracks carved into the cus­tom tile lead­ing into the main-level bath­room shower, bear and elk tracks in­tri­cately carved into the wood stairs lead­ing up and down from the main level, a 5-by5-foot elk de­sign in the tile in front of the pel­let stove and cus­tom iron work in the rail­ings around the front porch.

Phil was just as metic­u­lous in choos-

ing the wood he used to con­struct and fin­ish his home. He used En­gel­mann spruce hand- hewn logs that range from 11 to 17 inches in di­am­e­ter with a Swedish cope and sad­dle- notched cor­ners.

En­gel­mann spruce, how­ever, was just one of many species used through­out the home. Lodge­pole pine was used for the rails on the deck, knotty pine for the ceil­ing and in­te­rior walls, aspen for the wain­scot­ing, rus­tic alder and cedar for the trim in­side, hand- scraped and skip-sawn hick­ory for floor­ing in the loft and main-level bed­room and north­ern white cedar and fir for other touches through­out the house.

Now that he is liv­ing there full time, he has found that two of his fa­vorite spa­ces are the loft and deck, which give him the beau­ti­ful views he moved to Mon­tana to ex­pe­ri­ence.

For any­one just be­gin­ning their log home jour­ney, Phil of­fers this ad­vice: “Re­search ex­ten­sively what you are do­ing, go with your dream and definitely stay on the con­struc­tion site through­out the process.” And though both his log home provider and builder fell vic­tim to the Great Re­ces­sion, he has noth­ing but praise for the high- qual­ity work they did.

It may have taken a 30-year dream and sev­eral years to fully fin­ish their log house, but Phil and Irene are now com­pletely at home in Mon­tana. It’s a far cry from their pre­vi­ous Florida life­style, and they are just fine with that.

Just in­side the en­trance, you can im­me­di­ately see Phil’s pas­sions: hunt ing, na­ture and Old West folk­lore.

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