Rebuilding the Sperry Chalet one of Secretary Zinke’s “top priorities”

Sperry Chalet was destroyed by fire on Aug. 31 despite what was described as a “valiant” effort by firefighters. (National Park Service)

The historic Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park burned to the ground in late August, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said rebuilding the popular backcountry dormitory was among his “top priorities.”

On Friday, Zinke said the National Park Service had begun work to stabilize what remains of the structure to ensure it survives the winter.

The stabilization recommendations were made by DCI + BCE Engineers in Missoula. Zinke described the work as a critical first step to preserve the original structure.

“Rebuilding Sperry is one of my top priorities, and today’s announcement is the first step in that process,” Zinke said. “I’m grateful to the (Glacier National Park) Conservancy and the park for their quick work to preserve and rebuild Sperry.”

On August 31, the historic chalet burned when the Sprague fire surrounded the structure. Zinke has already called for an independent investigation into the loss, along with an inspection of the remaining structure.

According to the Interior Department, the stabilization work looks to protect the walls and chimneys from excessive snow and weather during the winter. Next spring, the park will conduct an additional analysis, and review the site as it considers “the future of the chalet complex.”

The same chalet was damaged by an avalanche in 2011.

“The Glacier Conservancy was able to get an engineering crew up there with our staff practically the day after we asked for help,” said Jeff Mow, the park’s superintendent. “With winter approaching, we could never have moved fast enough without the support of our private philanthropic partner to get this critical work done.”

The chalet was originally constructed by the Great Northern Railway and was part of the system of hotels and chalets built in Glacier Park after it was established in 1910. Construction on the chalet was completed in 1913.