Kerr's was founded in 1942 when Russell & Ferne Kerr opened a wood floor refinishing business, which later grew into a Custom Furniture & Upholstery shop. The business, named "Home Service Company", was located in a big brick building that they purchased at 206 South 3rd West in Missoula, MT. As Russell & Ferne advanced in age, they found that hauling furniture around was becoming more difficult. So in 1964, they closed their custom furniture business and split the business in two. The original “Home Service Company” was purchased by Roger Wegner's family and continued to provide custom upholstery services. Russell & Ferne went on to start a custom drapery workroom, which they named “Kerr’s Custom Wholesale Draperies”.
The big brick building that Russell & Ferne purchased for their business had 4 upstairs, studio apartments. It only made sense for the family of 3 to live in one of the apartments, however was very nervous about raising their son, little Russell so close to the river. They later purchased property in Upper Miller Creek and lived on a street named “Kerr Drive”…which is still there today. Ironically, around 1950-51, their son was tragically killed…but not on the river. He was killed in a car wreck on graduation night, after his senior year in high school.
Shortly after WW2, a Mr. & Mrs. Kalberg moved into one of the apartments above Kerr's Custom Draperies shop, so Mr. Kalberg could attend the University on the GI Bill. The Kalberg’s & Kerr’s became life-long friends.
Twenty years after the death of their son, in the spring of 1970, Russell was out riding his 4-wheeler in Upper Miller Creek, when he was hit by a car, and killed.
Draperies became Ferne’s lifesaving passion, and she was good at it. She was a survivor. She had very poor circulation in her legs, and during a procedure in the hospital to alleviate her condition, complications occurred, which lead to the amputation of her right leg from the knee down. But even that didn’t stop her.
In 1971, Roger Wegner & his wife, Pat, decided to branch out on their own. They bought the Upholstery portion of the business from Roger’s uncle, and took the name “Home Service Company” with them, which later became “William’s & Wegner Home Service Company”.
Around the same time, after the death of Ferne’s husband, Mr. & Mrs. Kalberg’s son, Dale, came to the University to pursue a degree in Forestry. They introduced him to Ferne, and that was the start of a life-long working relationship at Kerr’s Custom Wholesale Draperies. Dale worked for Ferne for 9 years, before purchasing the business from her in 1980. Dale was taught by the best. So much so, that he never worked anywhere else.
In her final years, Ferne developed Alzheimer’s disease, then breast cancer, which ultimately took her life in 1998.
Ferne had a twin brother named Forest, nick-named, Torchie. No…their hair wasn’t green, but beautiful, flaming red!
Dale worked with Ferne , & owned & operated Kerr’s as a successful, high-quality drapery business for 28 years, when he retired and sold it to the current owner’s, Gary & Michelle Watson in 2008. Having a passion for the business, Dale mentored Gary, just as Ferne did to him. Gary & Michelle simplified the name to: “Kerr’s Custom Draperies”. True to their successors, they continue to manufacture and provide high-quality window treatments all over the state of Montana and sometimes beyond. In 2012, Roger Wegner sold his business and returned to Kerr’s, where he does part-time Upholstering.
In fall of 2016, the old brick building was sold, and Gary & Michelle made the decision to move the company to a new location. We are now enjoying a smaller, more cozy & efficient building located at: 845 Ronan Street in Missoula.