The Wambolt family: Insuring that history is preserved


Freddie Wambolt poses on the porch of the home he restored to serve as an insurance office on Main Street in Miles City. (STAR PHOTO/Austin Lott)
By: 
Austin Lott
Star Staff Writer

Freddie Wambolt, a local insurance agent, recently moved his office into the historic Coleman residence at 2116 Main St. in Miles City.

The process of restoring the century-old, 4,700-square-foot home, and converting it to an office, took nearly six months and the help of about 20 area subcontractors. 

Wambolt himself put in lots of long nights and more than a few Saturdays to transform the residence, which had been converted into apartments.

Along the way, and especially toward the end of the project, he got lots of help from his wife, Amanda, as well as his father, Fred. They celebrated with an open house a little over a month ago, and the public just keeps marching in.

Freddie Wambolt said the office has quickly become a gathering spot.

“Coffee or conversation, customers and locals alike have stopped by just to enjoy it,” he said. 

That’s precisely what Kate Hampton, the community preservation coordinator from the Montana Historical Society, said about historic homes.

“The homes are places that are touchstones of our community, where we can connect with other people and with the history of our community,” she said. 

The Coleman residence was home to James Coleman, who moved to Miles City after arriving in the area in 1876.

One of the founders of the Miles City Chamber of Commerce, Coleman was successful in several business ventures before deciding to build the home for his family in 1912.

The 2 1/2 story home is an American foursquare, one of the most-popular home styles from the 1890s through the 1930s. It is characterized by its simple box shape, clean lines, low-hipped roof, and large central dormer.  

The interior strikes a balance between being an office, with all the modern technology, and being on the National Register of Historic Places.

That holds true for the work space where Wambolt, an avid collector of vintage memorabilia, does business. 

While his desk is populated with the requisite phone and sports a pair of computer monitors, the dark, wood shelves behind it hold a vintage radio and a fan from years’ past.

Freddie and his wife, Amanda, have purchased and restored a number of homes over the past 10 years, but never something like the Coleman residence.

The couple said they had been looking at a number of traditional buildings when they happened to be stopped in front of 2116 Main St. and noticed the house was for sale.

Though he initially dismissed the idea, Freddie said he couldn’t stop thinking about the historic home on Main and after touring it, he had a vision for what you see today: a new use for an historic old home that had fallen into disrepair. 

(Contact Austin Lott at 406-234-0450.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the the photo gallery Wambolt for more photos)

 

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