Restoring the Past
The Hockaday Museum has restored seven murals from Glacier National Park.
When early visitors to Glacier National Park visited the Glacier Park Lodge they immediately saw wonderful murals that decorated the lodge walls. When the lodges were remodeled in the 1950s, some of the murals were cut from their moldings, removed from their panels, rolled up and thrown away—seemingly lost forever.
But 15 of the murals were saved and stored at the home of Leona and Robert Brown, who passed them down to their granddaughter Leanne and her husband Alan Goldhahn. In September of 2012, Leanne donated the murals to the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana, in memory of her grandparents, Leona and Robert. Now seven of those murals have been restored and are now on view at three locations in Montana: three are on permanent display at the Hockaday; two are on view at the O’shaughnessy Center of Whitefish, Montana; and another is on view at the Lake County Courthouse of Polson, Montana.
The murals were commissioned by Louis Hill, president of the
Great Northern Railway, who favored eclectic Victorian and Western themes and filled the lodges with paintings, photographs and artifacts. The murals were commissioned to fill the long horizontal spaces above the wainscoting. According to the Hockaday, “The murals appear to be created from photographs and were painted using waterbased tempera on canvas stretched on panel. The scenic panels covered hundreds of square feet and appeared in a 1939 Glacier Park Lodge inventory as ‘51 watercolor panels.’ There is some evidence that John Fery, the most famous of the Glacier National Park artists, intended to paint these panels as he had drawn up some preliminary sketches. Instead,
Hill decided to hire a muralist to expedite the process.”
It is not known who painted the murals, or even how many artists were involved. The paintings are not signed and there is no history or record of who the artist was. There are numbers and locations on the backs of the panels identifying where they were hung in Glacier Park Lodge.
For more information about the murals and their restoration visit www.hockadaymuseum.org.
Mural No. 7, of St. Mary Lodge, on display at the Lake County Courthouse in Polson, Montana.
Far left: Mural No. 2, on display at the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana.
Left: Mural No. 3, on display at the O’shaughnessy Center in Whitefish, Montana.