Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sun Valley looks to protect its history

Historic Preservation Commission lists sites of interest

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Inn opened as the Challenger Inn to accommodate Sun Valley?s middle class visitors. The Tyrolean-style building has been altered but maintains its historical integrity. Shown here are swimmers enjoying the outdoor heated pool at the Inn, which the commission notes as a significant historical feature of the building. Photo courtesy of Regional History Department, The Community Library

The Sun Valley Historic Preservation Commission hopes Sun Valley's iconic red barn will remain in its rural setting in order to preserve its historical significance.

"The barn itself, unless it has land around it, loses its significance and its context," said Nancy Humphries, one of the commission's members. "It is the only building over 100 years old in the city of Sun Valley."

Built in the early 1880s, the barn located at the entrance to the city was most likely used to service ore wagons that traveled Trail Creek Road to the east. The commission agreed Friday, Oct. 13, that a historic district should be established to protect the barn and its surrounding lands. The commission specified the boundaries of the historic district to include pastoral lands that stretch into the eastern adjacent pasture.

"We are trying to establish it is a rural barn that needs a rural setting," said Commissioner Susan Perrin.

The Historic Preservation Commission's recommendations will be considered 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, by the city Planning and Zoning Commission. The suggestions include designating five historic districts, a historic preservation ordinance and other properties as historic.

During the recent meeting, the commission agreed historic districts should be established for the red barn, Trail Creek Cabin, the Horsemen's Center and the Sun Valley Lake dam. Last month, the commission voted unanimously to establish a historical protection district for the Sun Valley Village area. The district includes the Sun Valley Lodge, Challenger Inn, outdoor ice rink, pool and Opera House.

Under a district, demolition and exterior changes to historic buildings would be subject to review of the commission. Current regulations allow for any structure, including the barn or the Sun Valley Lodge, to be demolished without a public hearing. If historic districts were approved by the City Council, the proposed demolitions of buildings within a district would require a public hearing and review. The district designation doesn't prohibit demolition or renovation; rather, it means such changes would be subject to review.

The commission decided to eliminate from the list the Idaho Power building located to the south of the red barn on Sun Valley Road. The building was built in 1962 as a replica of an earlier building. A generator located inside, which dates back to 1888, holds the historical significance. The Ernest Hemingway Memorial on Trail Creek Road was also removed from the list.

The City Council must pass an ordinance to institute the commission's recommendations.

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