Listing of the Day
Location: Bigfork, Montana
Price: $6.295 million
Head east out of Bigfork, a charming and artsy Montana town in the heart of Big Sky Country, drive past the crystal lakes and mountain peaks of the Seeley-Swan Valley, and you’ll find yourself at the northern bank of Swan Lake, the smaller (and less crowded) sister of Flathead Lake, a popular summertime spot.
There, on the banks of Flathead Lake, Sentinel Pine estate rolls out the welcome mat in a grand fashion, as only a palatial Montana estate like this one can do.
The fact that this place is up for grabs is a novelty, said listing agent Patrick Hanes of Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty. “Not since the purchase of Sentinel Pine in 1942 has a property of this size, quality, and location been offered,” he said. “It is not an overstatement to say that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Sitting on 30 acres, Sentinel Pine has 2,100 feet of waterfront property. There are six buildings on site, three of which have fully equipped kitchens, and a total of 12,000 square feet of living space. There are 17 bedrooms and 22 beds, as well as 10 full bathrooms.
We’d be remiss to go right to the property’s onsite amenities and skip over the fact that it sits at the doorstep of the 1,583-square-mile Glacier National Park. Aside from that, other top draws are Flathead Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, and “the absolutely charming art- and craft-centered towns of Bigfork and Whitefish,” said the property’s principal owner, venture capitalist/entrepreneur Jim McGrath. (Some shares of the property are owned by others, like Jim’s brother, John, but they’re all descendants of the original buyer, JL McLaughlin.)
Nine-mile-long Swan Lake is “quiet and unique, and some call it ‘one of the last great areas in the Last Best Place,’ as Montana is often referred to,” he added.
On property, there’s an eight-acre lawn with a baseball field and pitching machine, a place to play a game of basketball or volleyball, a tennis court, a croquet court, hiking trails, and in the main lodge, a dining room that will seat 30 of your nearest and dearest. But “first and foremost,” Mr. McGrath said, “it’s a watersport heaven. Covered boat slips, enough sitting room on the dock for 15 people, pebble beaches, waterskiing, tubing, rowing, boating of all types, swimming, kayaking, and a diving board.”
Jim McGrath is the grandson of JL McLaughlin, a contractor from Great Falls, Montana. McLaughlin bought the property in 1944 for $30,000, and gave it its name, Sentinel Pine, to honor an 800-year-old Ponderosa pine tree that grew lakeside.
McLaughlin was an instrumental part of Montana’s history. He built much of Glacier National Park’s legendary Going-To-The-Sun Highway, as well as a lot of the road systems for Yellowstone National Park. Understandably, the property is a special place for the McLaughlin family. In fact, Mr. McGrath hasn’t missed a summer there in 62 years.
Agent: Patrick Hanes, Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty
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