Idaho Falls - City of Destiny

Idaho Falls Historic Preservation

Bonneville County Historical Society

The beginnings of Bonneville County Historical Society go back to the seventies when just a hope existed in the minds of historians. After being on the board of the Upper Snake River Valley Historical Society, headquartered in Rexburg, Quincy Jensen, Linden Bateman and Doris Backstrom began to develop plans for a society in Bonneville County.

A historical society could receive county money as authorized in the Idaho Code 31-864 through the yearly budget and could begin the framework for a historical society. First, the society needed to obtain members, elect officers, write a constitution with by- laws, and begin.

So they did. The Post-Register dated February 5, 1975, tells the information. Doris Backstrom was elected the first president with Linden Bateman as vice president. Eleanore Mobley became the treasurer and Paula Heindel, Secretary. Simon Martin, a local attorney, was instrumental in obtaining the Articles of Incorporation from the State of Idaho, and in August of 1975 the society received their non-profit corporation status. The society was now official. It could accept gifts, obtain membership, and expand.

Participation on field trips, honoring of families, and in the meetings grew. Early meetings were held in the Skyline High School library, then the Bonneville County Courthouse, and then finally to its home in the old Carnegie library on Elm Street.

The museum itself went through an evolution. At first the historical society was mainly interested in field trips, oral histories, honoring a Bonneville County family, entering the July 4th parade and in gaining membership. Then the society began to receive donations of items of historical significance to the county. How was the society going to preserve its artifacts and archival material? And so began the process of building displays, cataloging the material, developing contractual forms, and developing a mini-museum. A room in the Bonneville County courthouse became the first museum. Linden Bateman was responsible for the displays and others in the society began to find historical material for the displays.

Soon one room was not enough and the displays were moved out into the hall, then upstairs into the hall. The artifacts needed a permanent home.

The Bonneville County Commissioners were very gracious from the beginning of the historical society. Later, Wylie Snarr, County Commissioner, served on the Board of Directors.

Many people became involved in the process. Quincy Jensen, the resident photographer, took photographs. June Oler, president for five terms, brought more ideas into the society with implementation close behind. She conducted an "annual pilgrimage" to the old Carnegie library building to study the feasibility of its use as a museum. Eleanore Mobley kept track of the financial concerns of the society.

When John Weida was president, the opportunity came to move into the old library. Mayor Tom Campbell and the city council extended their support to the society from the beginning in the restoration of the old library. Many people from the community and community organizations, trade unions, and church groups helped open the museum. Behind the scene activities were under the leadership of Bernice McCowin, Lois and Ray Nickum, Nic Backstrom, John Weida, Linden Bateman and many others. The bronze plaque in the library has listed only a few.

The museum opened in 1985. Project director for Eagle Rock U.S.A., which opened downstairs in 1989, was Robert Bates, with Lois Nickum, Museum Chairman, designing the interiors. The project was completed as a "lasting legacy" for Idaho's 1990 Centennial.

Submitter: Doris Backstrom
Sources: Scrapbook in Museum, Charter on wall in office, Minutes of meetings.

Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission

Historic Places

National Register of Historic Places nominations are located at Idaho State Historical Society, Boise. A description of the architecture of each building in connection with the nominated Downtown Multiple Resource Area, was prepared by Don Szymansky and Jennifer Eastman Attebery, architectural historians for the Idaho State Historical Society. It is on file, along with the following description of the city:

The city of Idaho Falls lies at an elevation of 4,707 feet in the upper Snake River Valley in Bonneville County. Located in the middle of extensive irrigated farmland, Idaho Falls is the economic, governmental, and cultural center for the county and much of the surrounding area. Idaho Falls was established as a crossroads for trade and travel. Its location on major transportation routes to the north and east makes the town a gateway to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Across the Snake River to the west are the lava beds of the Snake River plain and the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory site. To the south, Interstate 15 connects Idaho Falls with Blackfoot, Pocatello, and finally Salt Lake City, to which Idaho Falls owes much of its early development.

The Idaho Falls Downtown multiple resource area, roughly bounded by Yellowstone Avenue and the railroad tracks on the southeast, Memorial Avenue and the Snake River on the northwest, F Street on the northeast, and Market Street on the south, makes up the current central business district of Idaho Falls [1972]. One building, the Idaho Falls Public Library, lies just outside these general boundaries. This building acts as a terminus for a major boulevard running from the Snake River down through the business district and is visually connected with the business district....

The earliest business district of Idaho Falls, then known as Eagle Rock, grew up during the 1880s along Eagle Rock Street just to the southwest of the multiple resource area. Early business buildings were frame or log, fronting on board sidewalks and dirt streets. These buildings were replaced around the turn of the century with brick and stone commercial buildings, still fronting on boardwalk and dirt streets. At the same time, the business district began to grow north-and east ward, eventuallly forming a twenty-block area of dense commercial development. Within the period covered by this nomination [1894-1940], the commercial area gained paved streets and concrete sidewalks. No buildings from the original section of the business district along Eagle Rock Street survive.

Historic Buildings

Date constructed
Idaho Falls City Building 308 W. C St. 1930
The City Building was one of many city improvements made in Idaho Falls during an era in which most Idaho towns experienced a lull in building activity. (See City of Idaho Falls, "City Hall.")
Bonneville Hotel 400 block West C St. 1927
The hotel is one of three early hotels along C Street between the railroad depot and the county courthouse. It represents a conscious effort to provide a luxury hotel for city visitors in a period when Idaho Falls was undergoing rapid growth. (See Tourism: "Hotels," Bonneville Hotel.)
Hotel Idaho 482 W. C St. 1917
This was in the C Street hotel neighborhood, near the courthouse, post office and railroad depot. It was built in 1917 by its original owner, Frederick C. Hansen. The southwest portion of the main floor was occupied by Hart-Ellsworth Auto Company, which sold Nash automobiles. The building was purchased in 1944 by Ira R. Taylor, and in 1954 by Ross Gillespie. The hotel closed in 1979 and is now office space.
Montgomery Ward Building 504 Shoup Ave. 1928-29
This building was later purchased by Paul Ahlstrom for a furniture store.
Underwood Hotel 343-349 W. C St. 1918
The hotel was built as the Underwood Hotel, Jennie Underwood, proprietor. It is an example of the domestic-related commercial enterprises available to women during the early twentieth century. It represents the range of hotels during the period when trains were a principal mode of transportation. It later was the Ross Hotel.
Kress Building 451 No. Park Ave. 1930-32
When S. H. Kress and Company purchased this site, formerly the Fire Department, from the City, the purchase enabled the mayor and city council to proceed to build a new City Hall, housing the fire and police departments.
Douglas-Farr Building 493 N. Capital Ave. 1911-1921
It was the only remaining unaltered example of the one-story commercial buildings common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century period. It first housed Anthony F. Douglas' auto repair shop and the Farr Candy Company. During the 1930s and 1940s the southern portion of the building was used to publish a regional weekly paper, The Eastern Idaho Farmer, by Aden Hyde and Henry Dworshak.
Idaho Falls Public Library No. Yellowstone 1916, 1938-40
The library, now housing the county historical museum, is significant for its association with a group of prominent Idaho Falls women who in 1898 formed the Village Improvement Society and embarked on a crusade to beautify Idaho Falls. Their achievements include establishment of city parks, planting trees along then barren streets, and founding the city's public library. The VIS obtained a grant from the Carnegie Library Foundation in 1905 for the sum of $10,000. The building was completed in 1916, when the city population was 6,000. By 1938 the population had risen to 15,000 and the building had become inadequate. The city, in conjunction with the Public Works Administration, began a remodeling project to modernize and enlarge the existing structure at a cost of $70,000.
Rocky Mountain Bell Bldg. 246 W. Broadway c. 1910
The building was used by the phone company until the late 1920s. Around 1930 the building was acquired by the Catholic Church, used as a parish hall, and named Faber Hall. About 1953 the building was purchased by the local carpenters union and used as a meeting hall and offices by several local labor unions. It was then renamed Labor Temple. When it was damaged by fire in 1990, owner was Francis Sima.
Shane Building 381 No. Shoup Ave. 1915
Early uses include a grocery, a furniture store, and offices.
Farmers and Merchants Bank Bldg. 383 W. A St. 1896-97
The building was remodeled in 1911 and 1921 by the Farmers and Merchants Bank, which had been at the building's corner entrance since about 1907. The remodeled building is associated with the economic growth that occurred in the first decades of the 20th century in Idaho Falls as a response to rapidly increasing agricultural development in the surrounding countryside. Known as Inkleys, it was owned by Idaho Falls School District #91.
Hasbrouck Building 362 Park Ave. 1895
Work on the building began in June 1895. Originally one story with a basement, it first housed Douglass General Merchandise. In April 1900 the building housed a furniture and crockery store. By March 1903, housing a furniture store and the post office, the building had been expanded to the rear about 18 feet. Between 1903 and 1905 it was expanded to two stories, with offices on the second floor. At that time the rear addition was still one story. Beginning in 1907, city directories show the office of Hasbrouck and St. Clair, lawyers, in the building. By 1921 the rear addition was extended to two stories. Herman J. Hasbrouck, a lawyer who moved to Idaho Falls from Nebraska in 1890, was responsible for the original construction. He practiced there until 1915; he also served on the city council and in the state senate.
I.O.O.F. Building 393 N. Park Ave. c.1909
The building is historically significant for its association with the Idaho Falls lodge of the I.O.O.F.(Oddfellows). As with other fraternal and secret societies, the lodge was a focal point of cultural activities and listed many of the most prominent residents of the town as members. As early as 1892, the Idaho Falls Times boasts of a thriving local chapter.
Bonneville County Courthouse Capital and C 1921
(See separate story, "Courthouse.")
Idaho Falls Federal Building 581 No. Park Ave. 1914-16
(See separate story: "Postal Service.")
Trinity United Methodist Church
Built in 1916-1917, The Trinity Methodist Church designed by John Visser, is architecturally significant as the best example of the Tudor-Gothic style in Idaho. The church's organ was made by Hillgreen, Lane and Company of Ohio. This early electropneumatic organ has one thousand pipes and was the most pretentious organ of its period in Idaho Falls. (See "Early Churches.")
First Presbyterian Church
The First Presbyterian Church is architecturally significant in being a good example of the Neo-classical revival style. The dome and Ionic portico are impressive by Idaho's standards. The columns were reportedly the largest single pieces of stone removed from the Boise quarries. The landscaping further enhances the building's effect.

This is the only building in Idaho designed by J. C. Fulton. This Uniontown, Pennsylvania, architect specialized in churches, and this plan was an almost exact duplicate of a church he designed in his hometown. (See "Early Churches.")

Early Stone Residences

The following nominations for the National Register of Historic Places were prepared and submitted by Renee' Magee of the city's Historic Preservation Commission, and copies are filed with the Idaho State Historical Society, Boise. Nominations and summaries of nominations, giving descriptions and histories, are on file at the Bonneville Museum's Reading and Reference Room, and copies of summaries prepared by the editor are available at cost.

Early Owner
Construction Date
D. F. Richards 426 Ash Street 1939
Nephi Dahlstrom 421 H Street 1908-1910
James Gordon 272 Hill Street c. 1900
P. B. VanBlaricom 315 Walnut Street 1896-97/1910
Herman J. Hasbrouck 309 No. Placer Ave. 1906-07
A. D. Morrison 258 Walnut St. 1896
Bowen and Kate Curley 288 Maple 1898-1900
Marquis L. McKee 409 No. Water 1899
A. G. (George) Changnon 313 No. Water c. 1896
M. E. Dalton 1450 Idaho Street 1919

Early History

The town of Eagle Rock grew at the site of a toll bridge over the Snake River that was constructed by J. M. Taylor in 1864 and 1865. The gold rush to Idaho and Montana had resulted in an increase in the number of people needing to cross the river, and the junction of a Salt Lake-Montana road with a westbound connector to the Lander Road and the Oregon Trail became a natural location for a trading settlement. The rapid expansion of commercial ventures in the town after rail service arrived in 1879 and the location there of Utah Northern Railroad shops in 1880 allowed the town's population to stabilize and grow. The relocation of the railroad shops to Pocatello in 1887 resulted in a decrease in population in Idaho Falls, but as irrigated agriculture developed in the area, the town expanded to become the economic and trade center for the surrounding region and a religious center for Mormon settlers in southeast Idaho. In 1891 the town name was changed to Idaho Falls.

While physical development of the Idaho Falls business district was a gradual process, by 1921 the multiple resource area had a full streetscape of brick and stone buildings except in the northeast area of the present [1972] central business district. After 1921 the major building consisted of infill and the redesign of existing buildings. During the previous three decades, frame buildings were replaced, one- story buildings were expanded, and residential and industrial establishments were relocated outside the area and replaced with commercial buildings....

Submitter: Renee Magee, I. F. Assistant Planning Director/Zoning Administrator.
Sources: Inventory sheet for group nominations: Idaho State Historical Society, Boise, Idaho. Daughters of Utah Pioneers

D.U.P., a historical organization that has established historical markers in the city, was formed in Iona 22 March 1931. Central Camp was formed in Salt Lake City in 1901. Today there is a Bonneville Company composed of ten camps. Membership is open to any woman 18 years or older who is a lineal descendant of the original pioneers who crossed the plains to Utah before the coming of the Railroad in 1869. Purposes are to:

  1. Perpetuate names, places, achievements, relics, and settlements of the pioneers who settled this Western Commonwealth.
  2. Preserve or restore landmarks with a historical marker. (Early markers were sometimes painted boards, inscribed with history, later replaced by permanent markers.)
  3. Preserve relics of pioneer usage. (For about 25 years, until 1991, relics were displayed in the County Courthouse Rotunda, and later in the Idaho Falls Public Library.)
  4. Record and preserve all histories of original Pioneers.
  5. Suitably commemorate faith, hopes, courage, industry and education.
  6. Foster love, honor, patriotism of home, community and country.
  7. Create unity and fellowship among all descendants of pioneers and settlers regardless of religion or nationality.

Local Historical Markers and dates erected:

Eagle Rock Meeting House, along river, Memorial Drive. 1958.

Willow Creek settlement, Shelton. 1939 and 1942.

Iona Pioneers. 1941.

Upper Snake River Valley Irrigation, east bank of river, 1963. Five counties participated: Bonneville, Jefferson, Madison, Teton, and Gallitin District. Elder Ezra Taft Benson dedicated the unveiling, which was covered with a blanket from Brigham Young. Elaine Lingren painted the pictures.

Ammon Settlement. 1951

Coltman Ward. 1956 (Plaque is now inside the Church.)

Snake River Toll Bridge, west bank of Snake River. 1958.

Highland Park, in honor of John Lingren. 1963

Submitter: Virginia Smith
Sources: Bonneville Museum -- files and scrapbooks.



Begin Here
Introductory Comments
Chap. 1 - Agriculture
Potatoes, grains, sugar beets, livestock, irrigation.
Chap. 2 - Business and Industry
Banking, Chamber of Commerce, Rogers Brothers Seed.
Chap. 3 - Amusements, Arts and Music
Amusements: dancing, circus, baseball, theaters, Heise Hot Springs, War Bonnet Roundup, parades. Arts: painting, drama, dance, music, symphony, opera theatre.
Chap. 4 - Communications
Newspapers, telephone, broadcast.
Chap. 5 - Celebrations
Centennials and Jubilees, Pioneer Day, Intersec.
Chap. 6 - Churches
Chap. 7 - City Government
Mayors, City Hall, Public Library; Departments of Electricity, Fire, Police, Building and Planning, Parks and Recreation, Public Works.
Chap. 8 - Courthouse and Federal Post Office
Chap. 9 - Historic Preservation Efforts
Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission (Historic buildings, places, homes), Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Chap. 10 - Schools
Chap. 11 - Clubs/Fraternal Organizations
Lodges, Sportsmen's Association, American Legion and other Veterans Associations, Boy Scouts.
Chap. 12 - Transportation
Railroad, Automobiles, Aviation.
Chap. 13 - Medical Practice &Amp; Hospitals
Chap. 14 - Native Americans
Chap. 15 - Snake River
Bridges, Greenbelt, Temple.
Chap. 16 - Tourism and Hotels
Chap. 17 - Lawyers and Judges
Chap. 18 - War Efforts
Red Cross, World War I, World War II.
Chap. 19 - Population Growth
Chap. 20 - INEL
Appendix 1 - Bibliography Guide
Appendix 2 - Chronology