Marble Stays the Course


Malisani explains, that for the common areas, Stam’s crew removed some of the panels as they were doing demolition.

“There’s work that has to be done as far as the wall placements,” Malisani says. “They’ve taken some of the cladding off and we’ve helped them. Then, we take it to the shop, clean it up a bit, cut it if we need to, and then reinstall it to match the existing stone.”

200 fountain beforeClick photo to enlargeMalisani adds that the marble for the building is a white from the Danby quarries in Vermont. It’s a stone he’s seen before in other, older Great Falls buildings.

“We re-did some of the same thing in another building about two blocks away,” he says. “In that case, they had done some previous remodeling where they had taken a wall that had been partly covered in marble and removed it. That left a side of the elevator exposed, and we came in and restored it.”

Fortunately, in that case, the removed marble had simply been stored in the basement, and the Malisani crew did some cleaning and cutting before reinstalling it.

“You can’t even tell the difference,” he says.

Malisani adds that the use of the same stone in both buildings suggests they may have been designed by the same architect.

The Montana Building, now known as Lofts at 503 for its address, presented its own challenges. Some were easy, where the stone is removed and then replaced – as when plumbing work needed to be done behind a water fountain in the lobby.

In that case, the marble pieces were removed carefully, and then refitted to the space after the work was completed.

“With some of the areas, we have to accommodate a different type of building,” he explains. “The building was all originally masonry construction, but the new areas are being done using 2” X 4” framing to interior construction standards. In those cases, we had to create a metal lathe pocket that will hold the plaster and hold the anchors so the stone can adjust with the building.”

Regardless of the complexity of each aspect of the marble restoration, Malisani says the job has generally been a pleasure.200 4897Click photo to enlarge

“These kinds of jobs are fun,” he says. “It’s also interesting because the installation methods are all still the same. We tear these panels off and they’ve got plaster behind them, but they’re installed in the exact same way we do it now; we just have better tools for doing it.”

And, he adds, it’s easy to argue that the stone is also the ultimate green alternative when it can be reinstalled and reused after 80-plus years.

“It all looks fantastic,” says owner Stam. “When you walk down the hallways, it all blends in, and you wouldn’t be able to tell that we’d done anything.”

While work goes on with completing the upstairs condos, Stam also plans to redo the commercial space on the ground floor. He believes new tenants there will also change the feel of the building, which boasts its own underground parking.

Ultimately, he sees his building as a haven for everyone from young professionals to retirees seeking the appeal of its downtown location.

And, then, of course, there’s the building itself – and the design features that first drew Stam’s eye almost 20 years ago.

“When you walk in the lobby and walk up the staircase and there’s a huge amount of terrazzo and marble, well, if you lost that, you’re lose the whole feel for the building,” he concludes. “We wanted to keep that and it looks really, really good.”


The Lofts at 503, Great Falls, Mont.
Owner/contractor: Aspen Homes & Development LLC, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Stone contractor: Malisani Inc., Great Falls, Mont.

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