Committee, public discuss historic preservation plans for Idaho County

Ivan and Dina Nuxoll of Greencreek visit with architectural historian Kerry Davis of Boise at a recent historical preservation meeting. Looking on is Cathy Carpenter of Grangeville.

GRANGEVILLE — A variety of historic preservation ideas were brought to the attention of a specialist and people interested in the area’s past, Aug. 28. Nine local residents attended a meeting held Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Bicentennial Historical Museum.

Kerry Davis, an architectural historian with Preservation Solutions, presented a program on behalf of the Idaho County Historic Preservation Commission (ICHPC). The presentation was part of a project involving development of a preservation plan to strategize future preservation efforts across the county. This is partially funded by a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“I am excited to see how much gets done [in Idaho County],” said Davis. “Especially since there is a sparse population in such a big land area.”

Davis said more than 650 sites have been surveyed in Idaho County since 1997 and more than 45 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

“These historic preservation goals include integrating housing, sustainability, livability and economic development within communities,” she said.

Davis emphasized “public input is so important.”

“We have to know what is important within each community,” she said.

Challenges in Idaho County, she said, include the size (5.43 million acres), the amount of federally owned land (83 percent) as well as the coordination needed between state and Nez Perce Tribe land.

“We therefore tend to focus more on private lands, which are overseen by the Idaho County Commission,” she added.

Types of sites/themes available for preservation and NRHP include archeology/pre-history; early explorers/settlements; Snake River navigators/fur trapping; mining; transportation (trails, railroads); agriculture; timber industry; recreation/tourism; Forest Service; and education.

Davis said goals also include increasing heritage tourism and public awareness of the county’s historical treasures, revitalizing downtown and heritage protection.

Attendees at the meeting represented the areas of Grangeville, Mt. Idaho, Elk City, Big Cedar and Greencreek.

Davis is currently looking for county ideas for preservation and will be completing a draft plan in winter 2014-15 with a final plan in 2015.

“We look at the cultural resources of an area, not just the buildings or the natural resources,” Davis emphasized.

Eligibility for listing on the NRHP includes being at least 50 years old and including original material, a resource that conveys a specific historical trend, a significant association with a historic figure, architecture or archaeology.

Mike Peterson of Grangeville, president of the Idaho County Historical Society, talked about two houses in Grangeville he had questions about.

“One is the stone home former Idaho Governor Len Jordan lived in as well as the house on Washington Street that was the first home in Grangeville to get aluminum siding in 1947,” he said.

Davis wrote the ideas on a list and also spoke about how the Big Cedar Schoolhouse is currently going through the motions to be listed on the NRHP.

“I have a question about road names,” said Cathy Carpenter of Grangeville. Carpenter said the road she lives on, now called Cove Road, was named Cove Placar Road when she moved to the area in the mid-‘60s.

“It bothers me that the ‘Placar’ has been dropped – it’s part of history that has been lost,” she said.

Carpenter got some ideas on how to go forward with the county to see if the name could be renewed.

Ivan and Dina Nuxoll of Greencreek live on a Century Farm and spoke about how his grandparents homesteaded the place in the 1800s.

“Maybe that original outhouse would qualify for designation,” laughed Dina as Ivan shook his head smiling.

Anyone with ideas for preservation is invited to call ICHPC chair Cindy Schacher at 926-6412 or 983-7012; Davis at 816-225-5605 or e-mail her at

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