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Making a Name for Themselves

How two Idaho Falls historic homes earned their identities

Published online: May 21, 2021 Articles, Home And Garden, Lifestyle Rebecca Long Pyper
Viewed 4923 time(s)

Monticello. Fallingwater. Graceland.

It seems all the great houses have a name, and that’s true even in Idaho Falls. Two of the most recognizable local homes were long ago christened with titles that have lasted for generations. 

The 13th Street Chateau

When real-estate agent Liz Yasaitis listed the 13th Street Chateau, it wasn’t her first rendezvous with the place. She grew up across the street, peeking out her bedroom window at the turreted storybook cottage until she was seven. 

So when she toured the property last year and saw all the original features inside, it didn’t take long for her to commit. “When I listed it, I fell in love with it. This was a spur of the moment thing. I’ve always loved this house, and I wanted it,” Yasaitis said. 

The home was built in 1939 for the Neal family, who lived there just a few years before Lloyd and Marie Holden moved in and stayed for a short time. Several years and a few homeowners later, the Holdens’ granddaughter, longtime educator Courtney Morgan, bought the house. The house then officially became the 13th Street Chateau. 

Yasaitis was more than happy to embrace the whole French façade. With her mother JoAnn Swendsen as her right-hand woman, the two launched a do-it-yourself, save-the-special-stuff mission that lasted day and night from Sept. 1, 2020, to Feb. 18, 2021. “Every square inch of this house has been done,” Yasaitis said. The pair filled in plaster cracks and painted the smoker-yellow walls. They stripped 10 layers of wallpaper in some rooms and regrouted original tile. 

The tile is one of the most compelling features in the house. Two original fireplaces—one in the living room and another in the primary bedroom—add warmth unachieved any other way. Both bathrooms kept their tile too. Highlights elsewhere include original wood floors, plaster walls and coved ceilings, windows, doors and dramatic beams. 

For now, Yasaitis is renting out the property but said, “When you have a special house like this, you can have a special tenant too. They appreciate it; they take care of it.” This is not a home she plans to sell either—it’s too special for that. “I just want to hold it (and) have it be something we own in our family,” she said. 

The Brady House

Jill Brady Groth grew up in the Brady House, the sprawling white home on a large 1st Street estate surrounded by trees. Jill was born with quite the pedigree: Her great-grandpa James H. Brady was owner of Idaho Power Company and served as Idaho governor and U.S. senator; the Brady Chapel in Pocatello’s Mountain View Cemetery was built to memorialize him. Her grandpa James Robb Brady Sr. bought The Daily Post, which later merged with the Times-Register to become the Post Register. And her father Jim Brady was a Notre Dame quarterback and the brains behind KIFI radio and, later, the TV station by the same name. 

The Bradys with all their ambition created quite a legacy, and Jim and his wife Marion built quite a house for raising their family of four children. In 1934 the couple bought 10 acres on a dirt road that is now 1st Street. An apple orchard blossomed in front, and lava rock fractured the space out back. 

The house was completed two years later, a white Cape Cod where the family lived for five years until World War II started. The family moved east for Jim’s officer training and rented out the house. After the war they headed back, and changes to the Brady House started soon after. 

All the good stuff remained intact, like gracious moldings, a dramatic entry, a stately dining room, and the colorful living room just off the foyer. But over time, the 10 acres were reduced to four. The Cape Cod got a kitchen extension in back and a large family-room addition on the east. After Jim died, Jill and her husband Mike Groth bought the house in 1985, where her mother Marion continued to live. 

The Groths added a self-contained west wing for Marion, and it was important to the family that the new wing didn’t look like an add-on, Mike said. Proportions were carefully considered, and the garage was relocated and built in the same style as the home. 

“This was the little house that grew,” Mike said. 

One of the home’s distinctive features is the art that hangs inside, the life’s work of Marion and Jill. The two bonded over a shared love of art, and their canvases hang on every wall in every room of the Brady House. 

Mike is now the guardian of the family home and the family story. Jill passed away in 2016, and he has kept things just the way she left them—with century-old poplars outside and a gallery’s worth of paintings inside. “I’m the Brady caretaker,” he said. “I don’t have to go anywhere and (can) still be happy.” 

Click here to read the May issue of Idaho Falls Magazine


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