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Story Mansion gets makeover amid talk of possible upstairs renovation

“In my opinion, it is tenant ready.” — Felix Spinelli, president, Friends of the Mansion
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Posted at 11:26 AM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 14:51:28-04

BOZEMAN — The Story Mansion is one of Bozeman’s longest-standing pieces of history. It has recently undergone a much-needed makeover that wasn’t necessarily cheap. That’s why a non-profit stepped in, but they say there is still work to be done.

Jackson Thorn is a Junior at Montana State University and a Bozeman native. He walks by Story Mansion almost every day. He says he’s done his research on the mansion and it makes him happy to see it still serving a purpose and bringing the community together.

“Ever since Sigma Alpha Epsilon left, it’s served as a park for the community and they always host events, like last night they had their trick or treating event,” said Thorn. “The only thing I noticed is the peeling paint and stuff on the exterior. I’ve never been inside of it before though.”

The mansion was built in 1910, home to the famous Story family. Nelson Story, who led a herd of cattle on a 1,500-mile drive from Fort Worth to the Gallatin Valley became the basis for the novel "Lonesome Dove".

Decades later, the mansion became home to an MSU fraternity from about 1923 to 2000. It was renovated in 1982 and then again in 2009.

Felix Spinelli is the president of the non-profit, Friends of the Story Mansion. He said it was time for a fresh coat of paint.

From July to October, the city hired contractors to revamp the Mansion’s exterior. The project cost was $169,000, up significantly from the original projected $75,000. Inflation in materials caused the price to increase.

The City of Bozeman was able to budget the gap but needed $6,000 to finish the project. Spinelli said that’s when Friends of the Story Mansion stepped in.

“We went out for a grant and a donation of about $6,000,” said Spinelli. “Shingling, new columns, and of course the paint just adds so much to the exterior.”

Spinelli says he is grateful for the mansion’s recent makeover, but his vision is far from complete.

“We’re trying to find a real niche for the second and third floor,” said Spinelli.

The second and third floors are currently locked right now, in need of some TLC after being used as fraternity living quarters for years.

Spinelli said renovations to the second and third floors all come down to funding, but he believes they will find a way.

“In my opinion, it is tenant ready,” said Spinelli. “We’re going to have to get some more input from the community, but potentially anchor tenants that come in and provide the finances to do the necessary renovations.

In the meantime, people like Jackson Thorn who are interested in the mansion can enjoy a guided tour of the mansion’s first floor, on the first Sunday of every month from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.