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The story of a house is also the story of a family

Over a hundred years ago there was a small shoemaker's cottage standing am Rauft ("at the steep slope") in Mürren. It belonged to Friederich von Allmen, an immigrant from Wengen, and his native wife Anna, born Gertsch of the Nidrimatten. The Small Montana (built around 1910) essentially consisted of a shoe shop with a apartment above and a workshop underneath. Next door was the minute Murmeli (marmot), itself little more than a small flat it with a store on top. Here lived for many years Anna Varley - Huggler, operating her "Souvenir Bazaar".

The "Small Montana" and part of the "Murmeli" around 1920. In front of the shoe store a tourist family stands on the left, Anna von Allmen-Gertsch and her eldest son Fritz on the right.
The "Small Montana" and part of the "Murmeli" around 1920. In front of the shoe store a tourist family stands on the left, Anna von Allmen-Gertsch and her eldest son Fritz on the right.

Between 1928 and 1932 Friederich and Anna, together with their three sons, Fritz , Hans and Ernst, built the Big Montana, a solid construction of concrete and brick walls with wooden floors, seven stories high on the valley side, four stories on the mountain side . The street front was shared by the shoe store of Fritz and Ernst's dresser shop. The floors above contained apartments, those below workshops. Here Fritz von Allmen, starting in 1932, produced for 30 years his famous Kandahar shoes. Up to 50 mostly local workers found jobs and income here.
The "Big Montana " with sports shop and hairdresser's shop, in the foreground the Murmeli with Varley's Bazar , 1930
The "Big Montana " with sports shop and hairdresser's shop, in the foreground the Murmeli with Varley's Bazar , 1930

In 1942 Fritz married Gertrud Maria ("Trudi" ) Meyer of Biel. The couple had five children, Martin, Dieter, Katharina, Felix and Susan. In order to provide them optimal educational opportunities, the family moved to Thun in 1952, where Fritz gradually built up a branch of his shoe production. And with some success: In 1963 the business moved into its own new factory building in Gwatt. In 1969 it was converted into a shareholder company.

In the meantime (1959-60) Anna Varley's son Ted had realized a major overhaul of the Murmeli, with a redesigned street front and a flat sheet roof replacing the old shingles roof. Here Ted ran his "Alpine Boutique", a gift and supplies shop.

While he gradually moved his shoe production from Mürren to Thun (where hiring and production was easier and cheaper), Fritz relentlessly continued to modernize the Montana, which he had acquired from his brothers in the meantime. In the sixties and seventies he realized a number of major renovations, such as the conversion of former workshops into apartments, a redesigned roof, a new central heating, a new street façade with a sleek new sports shop.

The Montana around 1975, with Fritz von Allmen's modernized shoe and sports store, an the Murmeli with Ted Varley's boutique.
The Montana around 1975, with Fritz von Allmen's modernized shoe and sports store, an the Murmeli with Ted Varley's boutique.

Fritz von Allmen died in 1980, and son Dieter took over the management of Kandahar Schuh AG. The brand has remained successful in a changing environment to this day.

In the Montana, time did not stop. In the eighties and nineties, Martin von Allmen realized many restructuration projects on behalf of the heirs community, among them a façade insulation in the basement (1985), the transformation of the former dresser shop into an apartment and a "Ski-Room" (1986), as well as an in-house oil tank in the basement (1993, after an oil spill ) . In 1994, the Murmeli was purchased and connected to the heating system of Montana. 1996 the Murmeli store was redesigned into a small Snacks and Drinks Restaurant. Since 1999 Chef Tham Kok Kheong from Singapore and his wife Yek Len Chew run their Chinese Restaurant here, which has become popular among tourists and locals alike. In 1997 Alfred Stäger Sport moved into the former Kandahar Sports Shop.

View in summer 2004. In the Montana store Stäger Sports, in the Murmeli Tham's Chinese restaurant.

In 2004 Martin acquired the two houses Montana and Murmeli from his brothers and sisters to sole ownership.

View in summer 2004. In the Montana store Stäger Sports, in the Murmeli Tham's Chinese restaurant.



View in summer 2008
The Montana has obtained its current appearance in 2008. The entire upper part of the house was insulated and given a wooden façade, with the valley-sided balconies transformed into closed verandas. After the exodus of Stäger Sport in 2006, Sabina Kulicka began her massage practice in the former sports shop. In 2009, it was transformed into a dedicated locality where Sabina has since been working. In 2011, Montana and Murmeli have finally been united also structurally and visually into today's "Haus Montana".

View in summer 2008 from valley side
In conclusion, the modest, but spectacularly situated shoemaker cottage has become a site to enjoy comfortable living, exquisite food and intense relaxation, ideally located for sports and recreative activities in a unique environment.
Meanwhile, the great-great-grandchildren of Anna and Friederich von Allmen already enjoy their vacations here.
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Fritz von Allmen | Martin von Allmen | Nicole von Allmen Zürcher | Claude von Allmen