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Into Historic Idaho Falls

Spend a little extra time downtown and marvel at our monuments to the past

Published online: Dec 07, 2018 Articles, Best of IF, East Idaho Business, Education And Arts, Looking Back
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Good or bad, it's easy to get used to just about anything. In times of hardship and discomfort, acclimation is usually a blessing. Unfortunately, we also tend to get used to the little pleasures in our surroundings. Features of Idaho Falls at which we once marveled are now seemingly commonplace.

A perfect case in point: the city’s Historic Downtown district. It's a shame, but the splendor of I.F.'s oldest structures are lost on those of us who spend the most time in their vicinity.

Spend a little extra time downtown, and you'll see the Historic District come alive.

Like a number of Western communities now seeking a connection to their architectural styles of yore, Idaho Falls is slowly but surely returning to its vintage roots. As summarized here by the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, there is no better model for this trend back to tradition than the city’s own historic buildings.

There are 13 designated structures in all. Two of our favorites are the former Idaho Falls Federal Building (the “Old Post Office”) and Kress Building, both located on Park Avenue. Here is a quick summary of each from the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation:

At 591 North Park Ave., the design for the former post office was completed by James A. Wetmore, a native of Philadelphia, in 1914. Two years later, at a cost of $86,199, construction was completed on this fine example of Georgian Revival style. In addition to the post office, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture News, the Civil Service Investigator, and the Defense Investigative Service occupied the building in its early years. In 1986, the U.S. Postal Service left the building, and private investors bought it, restored the exterior and remodeled the interior into offices.

Down the street at 541 Park Avenue, the relatively unaltered Kress Building was constructed for S.H. Kress and Company between 1930 and 1932. The terra cotta facade of this building is rare in Idaho. Few buildings in Idaho illustrate the use of terra cotta for more than decorative material. As you drive down Park, the vintage signage across the top floor is hard to miss.

For descriptions of all of downtown's historic buildings (as well as a wealth of other historic-district facts and trivia), visit the IFDDC homepage at www.downtownidahofalls.com.

Downtown Buildings on the Historic Register

Bell Building
246 West Broadway

Shane Building
381 Shoup Avenue

Montgomery Ward Building
504 Shoup Avenue

Idaho Falls City Building
308 Constitution Way

Underwood Hotel
347 Constitution Way

Bonneville Hotel
410 Constitution Way

Hotel Idaho
482 Constitution Way

Bonneville County Courthouse
605 N. Capital

Former Idaho Falls Federal Building
591 North Park Avenue

Kress Building
541 Park Avenue

I.O.O.F. Building
393 Park Avenue

Farmers and Merchants Bank Building
346 Park Avenue

Hasbrouck Building
362 Park Avenue

Source: Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation

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