Artfully Inspired: A Classic Western Log Home

A cowboy painting triggers grand Western architecture and furnishings in a Montana home.

Dodson log home exterior

A painting of cowboys sitting around a campfire by Gary Niblett entitled "Dogied" was the first piece of Western artwork ever purchased by Dennis and Pam Dodson. At the time of that acquisition, the couple was living in Marietta, Georgia. That work of art ignited a passion within the couple that has lived on for over 25 years. Dennis had spent his youth on his grandfather’s farm in Oklahoma where he rode horses, hunted and fished, and explored the marvels of nature. His love for all things Western was kept alive through his growing art collection. Years later, when Dennis’s business life was winding down, friends from their church moved to western Montana. Dennis and Pam visited them and were struck by the beautiful mountains and lakes. Not long thereafter, the couple also made the move westward.

The Dodsons purchased their ranch property near the small community of Bigfork, which is well known for its artisans and galleries. Their first priority was to build shelter — this came in the form of a cabin that would later house their guests. The cabin, situated near where the main house would soon be built, served as their living quarters and “command central” during the construction of their permanent residence.

The meeting of the driveway and entryway to the home is absolutely elegant.

Dennis and Pam consulted with Dennis’s nephew, Larry Gordon Wilson, to perfect their Western-styled home. The home’s layout had every piece of art figured into it. The house is a modified U-shape; even the footprint of the home gives a nod to that long-standing symbol of the West — the horseshoe. Once the design was well underway, the couple began building the team for crafting, building, and decorating their log home.

Dennis and Pam brought together some of the country’s best in building and handcrafting, woodworking, rock and iron work, furniture, and cabinet making. Alpine Log Homes, known for its one-of-a-kind homes, was selected by the Dodsons to handcraft the logs. Alpine’s staff used Wilson’s design, made the necessary adjustments, and provided the engineering for the full-round, authentic log construction.

Pops of blue brighten up the hearth

It took several months and hundreds of man-hours to hand-peel and hand-notch the Dodson home, which includes 12-inch diameter logs in the walls and 18- to 20-inch logs for trusses and posts.  

As soon as the logs were assembled on the horseshoe-shaped foundation, the workforce at LaChance Builders spent the next 14 months plying their talents to the thousands of finishing details required in a home at this level of refinement. “After working with them on the guest cabin,” says Tom LaChance, “I found their tastes and mine were very close. Dennis and Pam were open to our ideas and we to theirs, and it was a team effort from day one.”

More details and photos of this home ran in the Summer 2008 issue of Custom Wood Homes magazine.

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