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Expanding history, finding history

Monty Lindsley enjoys the Winthrop street from his front porch, which also serves as the sidewalk in front of his 1895 Winthrop building, which he is expanding with new construction in the rear.
Monty Lindsley is keeping alive a truly original Winthrop western building.  On the north-western end of the main street, Guy Waring’s 1895 structure is expanding. The new part looks the same as the old.  But it’s different.  It has insulation, for one thing.  Not to mention wiring.  

Lindsley is also carefully renovating the original building.  He had a new foundation installed because the old building was already three inches out of level and tipping.  Wiring and insulation are going in, carefully, slowly. 

Lindsley has been discovering bits of history under the old wallpaper as he works. Somebody preserved evidence of heartbreak there—a letter from a fiancé, announcing that she was returning the ring and heading back to Post Falls, Idaho. 

On a layer of white paper between the original wood and the wallpaper, he found an old valley name:  Walter Dibble.  Walter Dibble was apparently a student in the building when it served as a school house.  Lindsley also uncovered a newspaper page with reports of semi-forgotten events such as the Manchurian War of 1904 and ’05.

Lindsley found boards one inch thick and about 20 inches wide.  They are clearly very old: he thinks they may have been cut in Guy Waring’s Winthrop sawmill.

He has been mystified by a title over an exterior doorway:  “The Savoy Hotel”.  It was written in pencil on the old wood.  Laughing, he wonders if that doorway, at the top of an exterior stairway accessing three upstairs rooms, was the entrance to an old brothel.  Or maybe the three rooms held boarders. Or maybe the title was just somebody’s joke.

Lindsley knows how to work with wood.  He spent about 25 years building willow twig furniture which was marketed throughout the United States and even over seas by large companies such as Nordstrom’s.  Lindsley says he “got killed in one of the recessions and then burnt out.” He stopped building furniture as a living.  He now works at the Girl Scout’s Camp River Ranch at Carnation in the foothills of the North Cascades when he’s not renovating the old Winthrop building.

He loves the Methow Valley.  “It’s small,” he says, “and just so relaxing and real.”  He sometimes sits in a hand-built willow chair outside his pioneer building and marvels “at the slowness and how beautiful it is.”

The future of the renovated and expanded building is uncertain.  It may simply become a home for Lindsley and his family.