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title=”Chalet 504 at Yellowstone Club”
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Jim Murphy sits on the stone countertop in the kitchen of Chalet 504,
swinging his long legs. The owner of Continental Construction has held
onto a down-to-earth, Albany, New York accent.
“I’m publicity shy,” says Murphy, 54. “I’d rather have a story about this house and have nobody know about me.”
The 7450 square-foot, slope-side Yellowstone Club home is impressive
– with its timber framed open trusses, artful stone fireplace, Italian light fixtures, and simple, beautiful woodwork. The three-story elevator is designed to look like a mineshaft, and the trim details everywhere are impeccable and tasteful. But the
house is not as interesting as the man who orchestrated its building.
In 1982, Murphy rode his bicycle from New York to California. “I took my time, went up in to Canada, over Lake Erie, and back into the U.S.,” he says. He stopped in Iowa and worked on a pig farm, then rode to Yellowstone
Park, where his sister had a summer job. He hit the West Coast in Oregon and rode down to San Francisco.
“A lot of people go to Europe, but I’d never seen the United States, and I didn’t know what it was like, so I took that trip instead. It was the first time I’d been west, and I really liked it.” After the bike trip, Murphy taught school and did real estate appraisal in Albany, then worked for a Boston historic renovation company.
He met his wife Maureen on a blind date in Pittsburg. Jim’s college roommate set them up, and they dated long distance for three years. In the late 80s, after they were married, Jim worked in Naples, Florida, as Construction Manager, building a luxury home on the beach. He and Maureen moved to Naples, which he describes as “a great little town on the west coast of Florida…
It was a sleepy fishing town, and now a lot of wealthy folks from the Midwest have moved there.” Starting Continental Construction, Murphy did renovations, worked into custom homes, and then started doing high-end spec.
When their six children were old enough, the Murphys returned to Montana. Jim found Lone Mountain Ranch through the Orvis Catalog, and they spent two weeks there in the summer of 2002. He spent a day looking around
the Yellowstone Club. “I saw what they were doing with specs. I’d been building in Florida since ‘87, and I thought we could do a good job and compete in the marketplace here, so I bought some lots and started building.”
In 2001, he bought a home in the Club for his family. Now, their six children are between nine and 22. The kids attend school in Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts and North Carolina, and visit Montana on winter vacations and in summer. Jim is here one to two weeks of every six, maybe more. “I love working in two places,” he says. Continental has built five Yellowstone Club homes, and has done one yearlong renovation in Gallatin Canyon.
He hops off the counter, picks up a remote control and hits a button. A
TV rises from the counter above the breakfast nook, which is made of big boards, organically cut and polished. Video from one of his Florida homes appears on the screen – equally appealing, and with lots of light, but not overdone.
This place, Chalet 504, a super-luxury condo of sorts, was finished 2010. Murphy had the first choice of lots on that side of the ski slope, and he selected this spot for the view. To build it, he mostly hired locally. Murphy’s company did all the masonry, carpentry and cabinetry. Continental Cabinetry –
his Montana cabinet and door shop—is based in Four Corners. The stone countertops are from a local subcontractor, as are all the mechanical
trades and the metal work. The floors are reclaimed oak installed by
a local sub, and Socorra, another local, built the natural outdoor railings.
Carl Erickson, Continental’s architect, does all the interior architecture, and works with the interior designer, Mary Bentley, from the beginning. That way, Murphy says, “the hallway, the building and the cabinetry all flow together.” He points to the trim. “See how the cabinets evoke the trees and the wind and the movement? That’s also in the doors and all the oak wainscoting through the
“It’s a team effort. I like watching something take shape from pencil lines into detailed plans, coming out of the ground, then being finished, and being able to walk through and being able to appreciate everything that went into it—and even more than that, having a family in it that uses it.”
He’s clearly proud of his work—from the big picture to the details. “Isn’t
this great?” he says, showing off blue and ochre-colored slate tiles. “We try to do different stuff that people haven’t seen before.” His work has set a new high water mark for sales prices in the Club almost every time.
Murphy says a challenge of his job is finding and keeping good people. “We try to keep a core team together, but sometimes people let you down. My
job is to orchestrate everything—interior and architectural design, the project managers, the superintendants, take care of financing, and make sure it comes to a successful conclusion.”
What Murphy won’t tell you about himself is how much he gives back
to the community. He has sponsored a mountain bike team from Big Sky that goes to Moab’s 24-hour Moab race, the Bozeman pro-bull riding (PBR) tour, and is helping bring the PBR to Big Sky.
“The Big Sky community has been a great discovery for our family,” Murphy says. “I am happy to give back when I can.”