Glacier National Park Coffee Shop Honored For Its Mission 66 Style

The Lake McDonald Lodge Coffee Shop, aka Jammer Joe's, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. NPS exterior and interior photos by Lon Johnson.

While Mount Rainier National Park officials tore down their reminder of Mission 66 "parkitecture," at Glacier National Park a coffee shop from that era has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lake McDonald Lodge Coffee Shop was designed and constructed in 1965 near the end of Mission 66, a, shall we say, park stimulus package launched in the 1950s to update national park facilities for the growing tide of vacationing Americans. In landing a spot on the register, the coffee shop was deemed "an exceptional example of the National Park Service (NPS) Mission 66 planning and development program," according to a park news release.

The coffee shop isn't actually in the Lake McDonald Lodge, but rather just east of that building in one now known as "Jammer Joe's," a neat little pizza joint.

“The Lake McDonald Lodge Coffee Shop is an exceptional representation of the Mission 66 program from 1956-1966 that saw a significant change in NPS planning, management, and architecture,” said park superintendent Chas Cartwright. "Within the national park system, Mission 66 resulted in the construction of modern style administrative buildings, visitor centers, employee housing, maintenance/utility areas, entrance stations, comfort stations, and concession buildings.”

As with several other Mission 66 buildings in Glacier, the coffee shop was designed by Burt L. Gewalt of the firm, Brinkman and Lenon, Architects and Engineers, of Kalispell, Mont. Collins Construction Co. of Kalispell built the coffee shop at a cost of $140,130, and it opened to the public along with the Lake McDonald Lodge in 1966.

The Lake McDonald Lodge Coffee Shop was constructed within what is now the Lake McDonald Lodge Historic District which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and amended in 1996. The low profile, one-story, 40’ x 100’ rectangular facility was designed to reflect the nearby historic Swiss chalet style buildings while incorporating modern materials and construction methods of the Mission 66 era.

In a May 24, 2007, interview, architect Gewalt recalled that the coffee shop was patterned after the Lake McDonald General Store. The primary feature was the utilization of a low clipped gable, or “jerkin head” roof in the manner of the Swiss chalet style of the Lake McDonald Lodge and elsewhere in the park. According to Gewalt, “There was a conscious effort to blend the new building, though it was a modernist design.”

According to Glacier officials, the addition of the coffee shop to the national register brings to 372 buildings, structures, and sites in the park that have received that distinction.

Comments

Of course the building is very different from anything else in the compound, which includes the lodge (with a beautiful stone fireplace large enough to walk into (fires of uncertain light), a "motel", housing for staff, a gas station and general store, and a few other odd buildings. I especially like the graphics on the face of the building, something that you might expect to find on a Sears Silvertone transistor radio from the era.