Heritage Home

A year-round horse rider constructs a summer home in Wyoming to reflect the 1880s.

Visiting the Hoback River Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming, can make you feel as if you just stepped onto the set of a John Wayne movie. Owner Bob Bradley—tall and wiry, usually dressed in well-worn jeans and a Western plaid shirt—appears to have arrived on the scene directly from central casting.

Exterior view

  There are plenty of horses on the place, giving the ranch that authentic look. But this is where the cowboy theme ends. The horses in the paddocks are polo ponies. Bob, an avid polo player, spends his winters in California and summers in Wyoming, the perfect arrangement for riding year around. Bob chose to build on 75 acres outside of Jackson for its feeling of country life, its views of the Tetons, adjacent access to millions of acres of National Forest land and a place where the climate is perfect for the horses. And having the Hoback River with its gold-medal trout fishing running through the property sealed the deal. When not riding the horses, Bob can be found along the riverbanks wielding a fly rod. The crowning touch to this idyllic setting is the small settlement Bob built. “I knew I wanted the buildings on the property to be log,” he says. “I wanted a main house, a garage-workshop and two guesthouses that looked like old ranch buildings. And I wanted them to look like they had been on the property since the 1880s.”

To fulfill his wishes, Bob contacted Alpine Log Homes of Victor, Montana, to design and craft the buildings for him. Photos of historic Jackson Hole homesteads suggest that the pioneers used smaller logs; hence, Bob and Alpine’s design team chose 10-inch, round timbers for the construction. “In the 1800s, there wasn’t the machinery to move large timbers, so they used smaller, manageable-sized logs from which to build their homes,” says Chris Bishop of Alpine. It was local builder Tom Dobell who figured out how to make the newly crafted logs appear aged and weatherworn. He employed a complicated process of staining and varnishing the logs. Bob was delighted with the result.

Dining area and kitchen

Alpine’s designers based the home’s layout on those same Wyoming homesteads, which were uncomplicated one-story affairs with low-pitched roofs, large overhangs to protect the wood from precipitation, and an effective use of spaces. To seal the chinks between the logs, again the team turned to the Teton Valley’s log homes of yesteryear, using quarter-sawn saplings to fill the spaces. With today’s high-tech synthetic foam installed behind the saplings, Bob’s house won’t have the problems of snow and wind blowing through the walls like our great-grandparents endured. Bob relied on Minnesota interior designer Debra Martinson to help select the furniture and interior finishes.

Debra and Bob had together worked successfully on previous homes; for this project, she already understood his likes and dislikes. The color scheme and casual décor reflects Bob’s preferences and lifestyle. “Our goal in designing log homes with our clients is to create houses built around the way they live,” Alpine’s Chris Bishop says. “In the case of Bob Bradley’s home, we feel we were successful by meeting his lifestyle needs and evoking that connection to the Western heritage and to architectural history.” More on this home, including additional photos and floor plans, ran in the magazine.