Many might be interested in saving a historic building, but are unsure of how to go about it. There are many steps that could seem overwhelming. It’s all about direction, knowing the requirements and then the purpose.
This guide takes you through it in an easy to follow and understand way.
The BOCC will discuss a list of potential deed restrictions on the Romer House Music Conservatory next Wednesday. According to Commissioner Chris Fillios, regulations stipulate that the building is for only nonprofit use, rather than county development. After the deed restrictions are finalized, the building will be up for sale.
Fillios also suggested there’s a potential buyer for the building. More information on that individual will be considered at the Sept. 9 meeting.”
The sad news that one of Coeur d’Alene’s historic old homes was scheduled to have a date with a wrecking ball caused upset in the hearts of many. Spurred on by a tentative hope that they could save it, Deborah Akers Mitchell and Cindy Ackley Nunn began a relentless search into the lost and forgotten history of this magnificent house. They had little to go on, other than its most recent known history and some incorrect construction dates of 1910 or 1920.
Looking in the 1910 census proved fruitless at first, as the address of 627 N. Government Way was not showing up as being in existence at that time. Cindy turned to historic Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and found the answer. The house was actually built in 1908, and is shown on the Sanborn map for that year. However, the front of the house faced Garden, not Government Way! Cindy then checked the 1921 Sanborn map, which produced a surprise. Now the house was turned and facing Government Way! This bit of information helped her to recall a news article where Jim Hawkins mentioned that he believed the house had been turned at some time in the past. Now, armed with this new information Deborah went back through the 1910 census, and sure enough, there was the house enumerated as being on Garden.
So, who was living there as the original builder and first resident of the home? A man named Boyd Hamilton, along with his wife Alta and Dale, their 4 year old son. The name didn’t ring any bells, but once they started to research Deborah and Cindy knew they had hit on the historical importance attached that might save the old home from demolition.
Boyd Hamilton was young, intelligent, good-looking, financially successful, and married to Alta May Browne, daughter of J.J. Browne, the famous Inland Empire Builder, and one of Spokane’s first millionaires.
Research revealed something else of great note; Boyd Hamilton held the distinction of being the second mayor of Coeur d’Alene, a position he won by popular vote in 1909. He was only 32 years old and already a man of influence and status.
Armed with a degree in electrical engineering and previous employment experience with Snoqualmie Water & Power, Boyd Hamilton was elected at a time when the city had wooden sidewalks, dirt streets and inadequate utilities. He ran on the Progressive Improvement ticket, which promised to improve the city’s streets, lights, and water. City leaders and the press thought he had the right background for the job and supported his run. It didn’t hurt that he had experience in business and finance, served on the city council, and was imbued with leadership talent.
Soon after moving into his position as mayor, something monumental was about to happen, providing Boyd with yet another distinction. He would be the first mayor in North Idaho to host a sitting President of the United States. Although Pres. Theodore Roosevelt passed through both Coeur d’Alene and Wallace in 1903 he did not include any town officials to participate in his reception.
In 1909 President William Howard Taft scheduled a speaking tour to the Northwest and he included Coeur d’Alene on his list of stops. Boyd Hamilton, as Mayor, would have the honor of welcoming him to the City of Coeur d’Alene. On September 28, 1909, he rode with Taft and Idaho Governor Brady on the train from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene and introduced him to an awaiting crowd. After Taft gave his speech from the end of the train, Boyd stayed on the train with Taft to Hayden Lake, where he dined with the President, the Governor of Idaho, and other dignitaries at Bozanta Tavern (now the Country Club) on a feast of wild game meats.
Boyd Hamilton and his wife, Alta, were living in Coeur d’Alene by May 1903 when the new Coeur d’Alene Bank and Trust opened its doors at 2nd and Sherman. Officers of the new bank included his father-in-law, J.J Browne as President, his brothers-in-law, Guy Browne and Earle Browne as Vice Presidents, and Boyd Hamilton, Cashier. A Bank Cashier during this time was the executive officer who was responsible for all of the bank’s financial activities, including buying and selling of notes and securities. Boyd was just 26 years old when he took this position.
Soon after arriving in Coeur d’Alene, Boyd assumed civic duties and became a member of the Commercial Club. In 1903, he organized activities for the annual convention of Idaho Press members that would be held in Coeur d’Alene. In 1904, he became a charter member of the Boat Club. He was elected Treasurer of the Commercial Club in 1905. He often initiated ball games amongst businessmen (“the fats” vs. “the thins”) to the enjoyment of the town. By 1907 he was on the Coeur d’Alene City Council and served on the committee for the construction of the new City Hall. Then in 1908, he was elected to become Coeur d’Alene’s second Mayor.
During his tenure as mayor, not only did he have the usual mayoral responsibilities, such as appointing the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief, he faced a few items unique to this period of time. There was the matter of cordwood being stacked on the sidewalks, the issue of a cow grazing in the cemetery, installation of posts on sidewalks to prevent teams of horses from running across them, and disagreements as to whether a fire car or a horse-drawn fire wagon was better.
Boyd Hamilton was born in 1877 to Colfax farmer and drug store owner, W.J. Hamilton and his wife Lulu Holt Hamilton. His father had served the Colfax community as mayor, councilman, education director and president of the municipal electric company. Perhaps it is here where Boyd was grounded in the responsibilities of civil duty.
Additionally, Boyd served as a Kootenai County Democrat Delegate to the State of Idaho and served on the State Textbook Commission. He graduated from Washington State College in 1900 with a degree in electrical engineering, and while at WSC, Boyd was the captain of the football team. A few years after entering the banking profession, he was elected President of the Idaho Banker’s Association (1909) and Vice President of the American Bankers Association (1910). He was President of Square Deal Mining and Director of Post Falls Land and Water. By 1923, he was the assistant manager of the Bank of Italy in Los Angeles.
Boyd Hamilton married Alta Browne (daughter of J.J. Browne) in Spokane in 1900 and they had one son, Dale, born in Coeur d’Alene in 1905.