The Border Station, together with the associated Garage, is located on a somewhat irregular rectangular lot, approximately 162’ x 192,’ that is leased by the General Services Administration from the National Park Service. The Pump House and original water tank are located across the highway to the east.
The Chief Mountain Border Station is a symmetrical one and one-half story building with a basement. Historically the building was divided functionally in half, one side for customs and one side for immigration, with each side being a near mirror image of the other. While the upper portion of the building is of platform frame construction, the chimneys, two field stone terraces, and two coursed rubble stone columns supporting the canopy overhang, all of which are similar in appearance to the random rubble stone used for the foundation. It is a T-shape building approximately 94’ x 64’ in size, has several dormer windows, and has a multitude of roof surfaces incorporating side-gable, hip, and shed roof forms. Many of the windows consist of operable inner and outer windows, with the outer windows being a multi-light window. The building retains its historic functions and currently has five apartments within it. There is a circa 1941 historic-contributing detached garage associated with the building, which is similar in overall appearance. Across the highway, there is a small pump house designed in the same style and built at the same time as the border station.
The Chief Mountain Border Station rests upon a random rubble stone foundation that is exposed on nearly all facades. As the lot slopes down towards the back of the building, the foundation becomes increasingly more exposed, allowing the building to be level, and terminates with a walk-out basement. Several decorative iron air vents, with a diamond-shape latticed design, are located within the foundation on the north and south facades directly under the building’s siding. There are two field stone terraces at each end of the building that serve as porches for the outside entrances to the apartments. Historically the Chief Mountain Border Station was covered with horizontal wood lap siding, with vertical wood siding found in all of the gable ends, as is still evident on the garage. The building is currently clad with horizontal aluminum siding, however, which mimics lapped wood siding in appearance and texture, and continues into the gable ends. All of the siding is dark brown with trim elements painted white. Wood shakes, historically painted green but currently more natural in appearance due to age and weather, cover all roof surfaces of this multiple-roof form building. Likewise, a variety of security devices can be found on many roof surfaces, as necessary for the proper functioning of this building, as well as several vent caps along the roof’s ridges. The building has four stone chimneys, which appear to have been made from the same stone as the foundation. While a variety of window types exist, nearly all of the exterior windows are multi-light wood casement windows and appear historic to the building. The building does not have gutters and downspouts.
Corresponding to the generally symmetrical exterior appearance of the building, the interior plan of the Chief Mountain Border Station is also rather symmetrical and was historically divided into two spaces – one half for custom purposes, one half for immigration purposes – that were a mirror image of each other. These two spaces are still a near mirror image of each other, as the interior of the building has seen only a few alterations other than mechanical and electrical upgrades, and retain much of their historic fabric.
The first floor of the Chief Mountain Border Station contains two one-bedroom apartments, a residential hallway, public restrooms, and the building’s public space. The public space is accessed through the building’s main doors on the east façade and a door with an access ramp on the south façade. The public space is divided into three areas, with immigrations in the northern half, customs in the southern half, and lobby space in the middle. The plaster walls are all painted white, with doors and window frames being of natural wood, and the floors are carpeted with a low pile carpet. The ceiling appears to be its original height, but all historic light fixtures have been replaced with fluorescent fixtures. A field stone-faced fireplace is located towards the back of the room, and is near the hallway that leads to the public restrooms. The two public restrooms – one for men and one for women – are located across the hall from one another, continuing the symmetrical plan of the building. To the west of the restrooms is a door that leads to the private spaces of the building. Beyond this door is an entryway facing the main staircase and a hall that leads to the two one-bedroom apartments; this entryway is also accessed by an exterior door on the south façade of the building. The staircase appears original as it is from the same type of wood found on other trim elements throughout the building. The two one-bedroom apartments on the first floor are essentially identical and are mirror images of each other. An additional three apartments are located on the second floor of the building – two studio apartments and a one bedroom apartment – with the two studio apartments being historic to the building and a mirror image of each other. The two studio apartments are located to the west of the interior staircase, towards the back half of the building, down a long hallway. The remaining apartment on the second floor is a one bedroom apartment that is not original to the building and was carved out of existing attic space over the office area.
The basement of the Chief Mountain Border Station is accessed from both the interior staircase and an exterior door on the west façade of the building. This walk-out basement contains its historic spatial arrangements, including holding cells and storage areas. The floors are concrete and the walls are random rubble stone painted white. The basement’s post and beam construction is visible, which has a menagerie of electrical wiring and pipes running through its ceiling.
There are two outbuildings associated with the Chief Mountain Border Station, and these are both historic contributing resources. The detached Garage is in a similar style and built with similar materials as the main border station building. It is approximately 31’ x 19’, was built in 1941, shortly after the construction of the border station, and follows the slope of the lot. It is a one-story, three-bay garage, with an open three-bay garage area below, accessed from its west façade to accommodate the lot’s sharp slope. The Garage has three wood overhead garage doors and has eleven, six-light casement windows, with three double sets found on the west façade, and one triple set on both the north and south facades of the building. The gable roof is covered with wood shakes and the building is clad with the same aluminum siding circa 1990 as found on the Border Station, installed horizontally except at the gable ends where the aluminum siding runs vertically. There is a small stone retaining wall to the north of the Garage, which separates two driveway areas. This detached Garage deviates from the standard as the typical plan for border stations from this era called for two attached garage wings off of the north and south elevations of the border station building.
The Pump House was designed to hold mechanical equipment. It is similar in style to the other two buildings. It has a concrete foundation in a rectangular plan. It is a single room structure covered with wood shakes on gable-end, steeply pitched roof. It is also clad with the same horizontal aluminum siding.
--Excerpts from the National Register form for the Chief Mountain Border Station & Quarters, NRIS number: 06000744, listed 5/20/2008.