Local woodworker and historic preservation specialist Chris Weatherly, owner of Bitterroot Woodwright located east of Stevensville, has won the Outstanding Individual Achievement award from the Montana Preservation Alliance (MPA) for his work in preserving Montana’s historic places, traditional landscapes and cultural heritage. Weatherly will be honored along with other award recipients, at MPA’s annual Historic Preservation Excellence Awards ceremony to be held on September 19 at the Montana Club, 6th and Fuller, Helena at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.
“Each year, MPA takes great pleasure in celebrating individuals who have gone above and beyond to save and protect Montana’s special historic buildings and places. Not only do we applaud good stewards and advocates for heritage properties, we also promote the importance of historic preservation as a tool for economic development, community vitality, and increased tourism,” said MPA Outreach and Education director Christine Brown.
Weatherly was nominated for the award by Chere Jiusto of MPA. Jiusto notes in his nomination Weatherly’s many accomplishments.
For nearly 30 years, Weatherly has worked professionally and as a volunteer to repair, restore, and rehabilitate some of Western Montana’s premier historic buildings. He completed nearly all of the restoration and repair work at Historic St. Mary’s Mission, including meticulously restoring Chief Victor’s cabin for historic interpretation; restoring and structurally stabilizing the historic kitchen; replicating historic windows, doors, and woodwork in the belfry; oiling and restoring the chapel’s log walls; and donating much time to researching and building a full-scale replica of a Jesuit/Metis Red River cart for the Stevensville Founder’s Day celebration.
Colleen Meyer, director of St. Mary’s says, “Chris always goes the extra mile. He has an incredible eye for the era of each building and the utmost respect for the buildings he works on.”
Weatherly is also the “go-to” restoration contractor for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and is responsible for maintaining and restoring the Chief Plenty Coups Cabin, the historic barn at Traveler’s Rest State Park, and Fort Owen. “Chris is the person FWP goes to for historic restoration work,” says Darcy Yakoweshen of FWP. “It’s just amazing. He’s a one-man operation.”
The folks at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in Stevensville were also lucky to have Weatherly work on the historic Whaley Homestead there. Weatherly scraped and painted the weathered clapboard siding and repaired windows and doors, and stayed on as a volunteer to help restore the house’s front porch and picket fence.
“It’s just been amazing to have someone of his skill volunteering so freely at the refuge,” says Bob Danley, education coordinator at the Metcalf Refuge. Weatherly has also donated his time to various other projects, including efforts to restore the Hangman’s Building in Virginia City, the Stevensville and Ravalli County Museums, and the Fort Missoula Barracks Building. He has also for many years been the President of the Stevensville Historical Museum.
In 2010, Weatherly was named Stevensville Citizen of the Year for his time and energy contributed to saving historic resources near Stevensville. He is deserving of much recognition and honor for all his contributions to history and heritage in the western Montana, wrote Jiusto.
Other people being honored at this year’s award ceremony include:
Rialto Community Theater, Inc. & Martel Construction, Deer Lodge – Outstanding Rehabilitation
Mark Kersting and Kiem Building, Missoula – Outstanding Commercial Rehabilitation
Bob Valach, Lewistown – Outstanding Individual Achievement
Michael Schaer, Billings, Outstanding Commercial Revitalization
Crystal Alegria, Marsha Fulton, Livingston – Outstanding Tribal Preservation Project
Helena As She Was website, Kennon Baird, editor – Director’s Choice Technology Award.