If walls could speak – oh, the stories they could tell! Idaho is one of the youngest states in the country (43rd, to be exact), but what we lack in incorporated history as part of the U.S., we make up for in Western roots. The stories of the men and women who discovered, plotted, explored, mined, and developed Idaho into the wonderful place it is today are often-forgotten with time. Their homes, on the other hand, are still standing!
While Idaho is simply brimming with history, these beautiful, structures scattered across the state have special historic value and even more aesthetic charm–and they’re ready to share their stories with curious visitors. But whether you pay a visit to drink in the fantastic, timeless craftsmanship of a long-standing Victorian home or the humble dwelling of Idaho’s lesser-known history-makers, or whether you’re there for the historical immersion, the antiques-scouting, or the design inspiration, there’s no doubt plenty to admire about these special homes and historic districts!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Standrod Mansion, Pocatello
Pocatello’s most beautiful home was built in 1902 from local materials for a man who, unlike the majority of Poky's settlers, was not a "railroader" by trade. The mansion is one of only a handful of Idaho homes designed in the this castl-like style, which is loosely based on16th-century French chateaus. Most notable are the two towers that stand on either side, but the lavish interior is what sets it apart: leaded glass windows, French marble on the fireplaces and washbasins, and golden oak flooring throughout.
The two-story home was built for the family of Drew W. Standrod, a prominent attorney and judge, who also served on Idaho's first Public Utilities Commission. Here, he wrote many of our state's existing water rights and irrigation laws. The mansion still stands sturdy today because it was built with local sandstone obtained from McCammon. Now privately owned, the house is closed to the public.
Address: 648 North Garfield
2. Bown House, Boise
Once considered large and luxurious when it was built in 1879, this sandstone home is set on the highest point in the area, and was once known as the "Block House." Joseph and Temperence Bown raised seven children there, and Mrs. Bown held classes here when the nearby school caught fire The original Italianate-style two-level home once included a cupola observatory and widow’s walk, later removed, from which the Bowns could view their 240-acre ranch. Since the home is located near the Oregon Trail, it's even cited in immigrant diaries from that era. It was added to the INRHP in 1979 and is open the first Saturday of each month from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Address: 8169 W. Victory Rd., Boise, ID 83709
3. Clark House, Hayden Lake
Hailing from Maine, F. Lewis Clark and wife Winifred originally built their dream home in Spokane. But eventually, the allure of lakefront Idaho was too great and no expense was spared creating the ultimate honeymoon retreat for this real estate couple, which was given the name Honeysuckle Lodge. The property started at the corner of Prairie Avenue and Government Way, north to Hayden Ave., then south to the lake and followed the south shore of Hayden Lake for approximately 5 miles.
The entrance drive to the Mansion was called Honeysuckle Road and still carries that name today. Originally, there were riding stables, tennis courts, greenhouses, guesthouses, a putting green, a garden with exotic plants and trees from all over the world....the estate even boasted a private zoo with exotic birds and animals. Furnishings from France, crystal chandeliers from Czechoslovakia, Carara marble from Italy, rugs from the Orient, hand painted murals by Zuber of Paris, and slate for the roof from England. The Masterpiece was complete down to the last lavish touch. Today, the home is a luxurious B&B--an absolute must-visit to get the full beauty of this historic house. You'll see floor-to-ceiling murals everywhere you turn!
Address: 5250 E Hayden Lake Rd, Hayden Lake, ID 83835
4. Old Mission Parish House, Cataldo
The next-door neighbor to arguably the most beautiful church in Idaho, the Old Mission stands side by side with a vibrant blue home that once housed the Catholic priests and Brothers of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The first Parish House burned in 1864 and this building was constructed in 1887. It was used by the Jesuits until 1918.
For a time, the home was also used to train young men hoping to become Jesuits, but not enter priesthood. The parlor was the business center of the home. Here, the priests counseled both Indians and non-Indians alike and maintained church baptismal, marriage, and death records. Now a part of the Old Mission State Park, visitors can tour both the parish and the church for a nominal fee, along with the cemetery and museum.
Address: 31732 S Mission Rd, Cataldo, ID 83810
5. Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House, Boise
This historic home is also oldest brick building in Boise. The Jacobs family--energetic entrepreneurs who operated a mercantile, flourmill, meatpacking house, distillery (producnig Jacobs’s Best Rye Whiskey and vinegar), soap factory, and cooperage--were also highly involved in Boise's local government. Jacobs served first on the city council, as county treasurer, and even as mayor in 1880. The family home began being used as a Basque boardinghouse in 1910 and functioned in that capacity until 1969. Today, it is part of the Basque Museum and Cultural Center complex, and is one of the only Basque boardinghouses remaining in the country.
Address: 611 Grove St. Boise, ID 83702
6. Indian Agent Residence, Nez Perce
The Indian Agent played an important role in tribal-government negotiations; the first Indian Agent to live at Spalding was Charles Hutchins. Previous attempts at agent housing were often empty, rundown shells--this vibrant green home stands at the center of the Nez Perce Historical Park at Spalding as the first of its kind in a new era of tribal relations.
7. McConnell Mansion, Moscow
The McConnell Mansion was built in 1886 for William McConnell--the 3rd governor of Idaho--and his family. It was passed along from family to family over the years until Dr. Frederick Church donated the home to Latah County upon his death in the 1960s. It was added to the INRHP in 1974 as an important architectural treasure; this home is a mixture of the Queen Anne and Eastlake architectural styles, the only authentic home of its kind in Idaho.
Address: 110 S Adams St, Moscow, ID 83843
8. Bishops' House, Boise
The Bishops' House was originally built on the corner of 2nd and Idaho Street, but was later moved to its present site near the Old Penitentiary. The house was designed by architect James King and built in 1889; each of the men who served as the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho lived in this home with their families while serving as the Episcopal Bishop of Idaho.
A remodel in 1899 transformed the home into a grand Queen Anne-Victorian style. All original hardwood floors and restored original woodwork, along with period ntique furniture and elegant light fixtures creates a graceful atmosphere. Today, you can rent this historic home out for weddings and events.
Address: 2420 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712
9. Oakley Historic Homes, Oakley
This town’s beautiful Victorian homes are standing strong after all these years. One of the secrets that the homes have remained well-preserved is that a certain type of stone found in the region that helped protect the homes, which were built between 1890 and the 1920s, from moisture damage. Many of the homes now house various other businesses and stand as educational sites.
10. Hatch House, Franklin
As the first "official" city in Idaho, it makes sense that some of the state's most historic buildings would be here in Franklin. In 1872, Bishop Lorenzo Hill Hatch built this elegent two-story stone home across from the city square, which still stands as a prime example of perfect pioneer architecture. As the town’s first mayor and second Mormon bishop, Hatch was Franklin’s temporal and spiritual leader from 1863 to 1875. He was also the first Mormon legislator in Idaho.
Address: 111 E. Main St. Franklin, ID 83237
11. Heritage House, Lewiston
As the last remaining historic domestic building in downtown Lewiston,and dating back before 1900, the Heritage House doesn't hold much significance other than its unique placement and long-standing architecture. A two-story frame bungalow, the house has a low gable roof, exposed rafters, multiplane windows and two lions in couchant flanking the front stoop.
Address: 0310 3rd Street
These beautiful homes are hidden right in plain sight, but talk about dream home goals! What other historic houses are hidden away in Idaho’s small towns?