Frequently Asked Questions
Get your questions answered about all things regarding what happened to, the current state of and future plans to rebuild Sperry Chalet.
Is Sperry Chalet being rebuilt?
Yes. On July 9, 2018, the National Park Service (NPS) began phase 1 construction to rebuild the Sperry Chalet Dormitory Building that was badly burned in the Sprague Fire in 2017. The Notice to Proceed was issued to Dick Anderson Construction on Thursday, July 5. Construction is anticipated to last through the end of October.
Dick Anderson Construction began by constructing temporary platforms for crew sleeping facilities. This summer’s work will include new foundation work to stabilize and level the interior structure, with the ultimate goal of supporting a roof. After the foundation is constructed, the main work will include seismic stabilization through the construction of the interior walls, floors, and roof framing. The roof constructed in 2018 will be a temporary membrane to protect the structure through the 2018-2019 winter. Materials will be delivered via helicopter and mule train to support reconstruction activities.
Bids for a phase 2 construction contract are expected to be solicited in the fall of 2018.
Did the public have a voice in the planning process?
Yes. The National Park Service released the environment assessment for the Sperry Chalet rebuild. The environment assessment document will be open for review and public comment until Monday, May 7. A public meeting was held on April 23 to provide an opportunity for discussion.
Public scoping was conducted from February 28 – April 2, 2018 to encourage early public participation, recognize important features of the Sperry Chalet experience, and identify potential resource issues. During the scoping period, two public meetings were held, and the park received 403 comments. The concerns raised during scoping were considered in the environmental assessment.
When will construction at Sperry begin? How long will the project take?
Construction would be completed in two phases, proposed for the summers of 2018 and 2019. Cost considerations and other unforeseen events or conditions could affect the construction schedule.
What will the new Sperry Chalet look like?
Good question! The design would restore the chalet dormitory reflecting its period of significance (1914-1949). Some critical updates would be included including current building codes where applicable, and improvements to life safety features including seismic bracing and fire resistant materials. The visitor experience would be very similar to what it has been for decades by using as much of the remaining historic fabric, and replicating historic finishes where practicable.
Is the Glacier National Park Conservancy (GNPC) in charge of the Sperry project?
No. Glacier National Park is the lead on coordinating the re-build effort. We here at the Conservancy will play an important supporting roll and will continue to do what we do best – raise money and coordinate resources to support any requests from Glacier Park for the Sperry project.
Hasn’t the money needed to rebuild Sperry already been raised?
Unfortunately, no. The money donated to the Sperry Action Fund has funded the initial stabilization project, winter overflight monitoring, and is now being used to keep the Sperry Dining Hall operating through the 2018 summer season. Having the dining hall operational allows it to be open to the public as well as providing meal services for the construction crews working dawn to dusk to complete phase one construction before the snow falls. Funding is still needed for this critical need, and additional support will be needed to fund anticipated future requests by Glacier National Park for work at Sperry Chalet.
The full rebuild project will require significantly more money. It will no doubt require a strong public / private partnership. Funding is coming from federal sources, including fire relief, in addition to a large scale private fundraising campaign led by the Glacier National Park Conservancy.
I donated money to the Sperry Action Fund. How was that money spent?
The Conservancy has committed $380,000 to Sperry related request to date including:
- Structural evaluation and stabilization in the fall of 2017
- DCI + BCE Engineers was hired (the firm that consulted on repairs after the dormitory was damaged by an avalanche in 2011) to assess the integrity of the remaining rock walls and to develop plans to stabilize the structure.
- The physical materials needed to complete the stabilization project were purchased.
- Transportation of materials and personnel to the site via helicopter was provided.
- Winter overflight and project monitoring
- Preliminary Planning Expenses
- Dining Hall operation expenses for the 2018 summer season including providing meals for the construction crews
Was Sperry Chalet insured?
Yes. In the event of damage or destruction, concessioners are required under the terms of their contract, to repair, restore or replace the facility and to have property insurance for this purpose. The minimum property insurance amount is specified in the contract.
A minimum insurance replacement value (IRV) for each concession structure is determined and specified by the National Park Service using an industry-standard system. The concessioner for Sperry Chalet maintained property insurance at the contract-specified IRV amount of $1.2 M which will be available to rebuild the Sperry dormitory building.
The Glacier National Park Conservancy is currently holding the $1.2 M property insurance reimbursement for the rebuild of the dormitory facility.
How was Sperry Chalet lost to the Sprague Fire?
The Sprague Fire started by a lightning strike on August 10, 2017. The challenging terrain and demand for fire resources made it impossible to put the fire out, so fire crews did their best to manage the movement of the fire.
In the following weeks, several groups of highly skilled teams worked to protect the buildings in the Sperry Chalet complex and the surrounding area. They installed a hose lay, a sprinkler and pump system, and they wrapped portions of the buildings with fire resistant material.
Despite a valiant effort to protect the structure, a combination of high winds, hot weather, low humidity, and unique terrain features conspired, and the beloved dormitory building was completely consumed by the fire. Fortunately, the other structures in the Sperry complex were saved.
Is it possible to donate building materials to the Sperry project?
Yes. Support comes in many forms. The GNPC welcomes in-kind contributions of materials and supplies. Please contact us to discuss your ideas!
How can I donate money to help rebuild Sperry?
Simply click on the link for the Sperry Action Fund, and scroll down the page to the online donation form. You can also send a check to the Glacier National Park Conservancy, just be sure to include a note about the Sperry Action Fund.
Glacier National Park Conservancy
P.O. Box 2749
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
Your contribution will be designated specifically to support future work at Sperry Chalet. Thank you for your support!
Sperry Photo Albums
Construction Phase I - August 12, 2018
Photos: A Boring Photo
Construction Phase I - August 4, 2018
Photos: A Boring Photo
Construction Phase I - July 9, 2018
I was fortunate to hike up to Sperry on May 3, and I wanted to share some photos from the trip! It was fascinating to walk the Sperry Trail. I know that trail by heart, yet some sections were unrecognizable after the Sprague Fire, while others looked the same as they did before. Given the avalanche-prone cliffs as you approach the chalet, we took a route far below the trail to stay out of harm's way. I loved seeing the buildings covered in snow and the goats still wearing their winter coats! It was very encouraging to see the walls of the hotel still being supported by the stabilization work that the Glacier Conservancy funded last fall. Enjoy the photos!