Will Ketchum’s past stay in its future?
Commission ramps up efforts to maintain
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
With the pressures of development mounting
day by day, the future of Ketchum’s historic structures is increasingly
The Lewis Lemon General Store, built in
1887, is one of Ketchum’s most-visible historic buildings. The Main Street
structure is currently occupied by Iconoclast Books. Express photo by David
Rising real-estate values have made many
land parcels significantly more valuable than the buildings they support,
including many structures believed to carry historical significance.
Prominent developments such as the Odd
Fellows Hall, built in 1929, have been lost, while others, like the Bald
Mountain Lodge on Main Street, are seemingly doomed for demolition.
While some residents might claim the loss
of historic buildings is an inevitable by-product of progress, the members of
the newly formed Ketchum Historic Preservation Commission believe otherwise.
Established by the Ketchum City Council
last February, the five-person commission is acting swiftly to enact programs
for the city to recognize—and ultimately protect—some two-dozen historic
buildings in its boundaries.
After just four meetings, the advisory
group is in the throes of establishing a comprehensive inventory of antique
buildings in the city. To follow are plans to give the City Council
recommendations on how to enact policies that help protect the few historic
sites that remain.
Commission members Wednesday, June 16,
participated in a walking tour through one of the city’s best-preserved downtown
districts, hoping to educate themselves on the history and location of numerous
historic structures that have largely evaded public recognition.
"There are a lot more (historic) buildings
than we thought," said Commission Chairman Jim Ruscitto, a Ketchum architect.
The tour through neighborhoods along
Second Street, Leadville Avenue and East Avenue visited sites such as Bonning
Cabin, an 1880 Pioneer Days structure. The diminutive log cabin was moved off a
site adjacent to Main Street to its current location near the corner of Fifth
Street and East Avenue.
Commissioners also visited the Horace
Lewis Home, built in 1880. Lewis established the Ketchum Fast Freight Line,
which carried freight and ore between remote mining sites and the city. The
building today is occupied by The Elephant’s Perch outdoor sporting goods store.
In discussions Wednesday evening,
commissioners said they intend to research whether the neighborhood around
Second and Leadville streets could be designated as a local historic district.
Commissioners indicated that they are
prepared to recommend that the City Council adopt a program that would install
informational plaques on unrecognized historic structures throughout the
In addition, commissioners also indicated
they might consider developing a draft set of city regulations that could limit
the ability of property owners to demolish old structures.
Some Idaho cities prohibit the removal or
demolition of antique buildings for which a replacement structure has not been
formally approved, said Stefanie Webster, Ketchum city planner.
Although many historic buildings in
Ketchum might not qualify for inclusion on the National Register of Historic
Places, commissioners agreed that the city must still take action to recognize
"I think we’re making great progress,"
Commissioner Nan Emerick said.