A Lewiston Landmark on the Brink
Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood in Idaho’s first territorial capital, a landmark mansion is slowly slipping away.
At the turn of the 20th century, Lewiston was a rapidly expanding town in a region rich with opportunity. Wendell Hurlbut was born in Wisconsin and moved to Lewiston in 1899 where he established himself as a banker and land dealer. He became the primary developer of the area south of the Normal Hill neighborhood, a development he would call “Blanchard Heights,” after the maiden name of his daughter-in-law, Maude Blanchard. In 1904, after a fire destroyed the first home he built for Maude and his son, Harold, Hurlbut commissioned Kirtland Cutter to build a grand mansion for them. A well-regarded and respected architect, Kirtland Cutter designed Spokane’s Davenport Hotel and Patsy Clark Mansion, among many other buildings.
Cutter designed a red-brick, three-story, Colonial Revival-style mansion for Hurlbut which was completed in 1906. Four Ionic columns support a north-facing front porch that overhangs a second-story balcony running the width of the house. An additional columned porch frames the front entrance. Inside, a grand central staircase, hardwood floors, oak ceiling beams, abundant wainscoting and a third-floor skylight create an elegant ambiance. Hurlbut Mansion was Kirtland Cutter’s last Colonial Revival-style building in his eclectic career and is the last Cutter building of this style remaining in Idaho.
Hurlbut Mansion, seen shortly after its transition in 1912
from a private residence to the home of an orphanage,
the Lewiston Children’s Home.
In addition to its architectural pedigree, the mansion’s historical significance also comes from its legacy of social service. Three years after Hurlbut left Lewiston in 1909, the Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society purchased the building which became known locally as the “Children’s Home.” For 50 years, until 1968, the mansion served thousands of abused, neglected and orphaned children. In belated recognition of its historical importance, the mansion was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 as the Harold Hurlbut Mansion, part of the Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society of North Idaho.
Unfortunately, after the Children’s Home moved out, the building entered into a prolonged period of decline under private ownership. The foundation and the framing remain solid, however, the front porch, as well as the four columns and portico, has suffered severe water damage. In addition, the roof has increasingly deteriorated, allowing water to enter the building.
As the first phase of Hurlbut Mansion’s restoration,
Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program is working to restore
the roofing and front porch, including the columns.
Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program, a nonprofit, early childhood education provider based in Lewiston, purchased the building in late 2001. The agency moved forward with a National Register listing, and worked with preservation agencies to create a restoration plan. The agency is currently seeking individual, corporate and foundation funding, with an initial goal of restoring the roof and porch of the building so that interior restoration is possible. So far the Harry Morrison Foundation has offered a match challenge, the Idaho Heritage Trust has offered a reimbursement grant, and other foundations and individuals have stepped forward. The agency is seeking more support to meet the match challenge, which will allow the roof and porch repair phase to be carried out; securing the building prior to further restoration. The match challenge must be met by the end of June 2012.
Upon its restoration, Hurlbut Mansion will be a unique community resource: an innovative early childhood education facility available to children and their parents in the region as well as a historic setting for the public to use for special events such as weddings, receptions, art exhibits, conferences and more.
Learn more at http://thehurlbutmansion.com where you can find an extensive overview of the history of the building as well as a vision of plans in place for future uses.
Update (May 21, 2012)
Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program (LCECP) has announced that they have recently met the match grant challenge sponsored by the Harry Morrison Foundation. Work began on Monday, May 21, 2012 to repair the entire roof of the mansion and to take down the front porch columns for refurbishment. Getting the roof repaired is a big step and will prevent water from getting into the building. Water damage has been a major problem and has contributed significantly to the decline of the building's condition. Moving forward, more money will need to be raised in order to continue restoration and preservation work. Projects include, pouring a foundation under the porch, putting the columns back up, and rebuilding the second-story porch.
Follow the progress at The Hurlbut Mansion’s Facebook page »