About Us

A BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING . . .

The clean, artistic lines of four Ionic columns complete, rather than dominate the home’s entry  and sit in near perfect complement to 16 white pillars that uphold the front, second-story balcony.  An elegant, carved balustrade lines the wide staircase which leads to the second of three stories.  Sunlight warms the air with scents of wax and wood polish rising from the main hall, paneled in oak, and hardwood floors that run throughout the 15-room home.

Commissioned by Wendell Hurlbut and built in 1906 by renowned architect Kirtland K. Cutter, the Harold Hurlbut Mansion was gifted by Wendell to his son, Harold, and daughter-in-law as their domestic residence.

A beautiful example of Cutter’s genius, the Colonial Revival mansion, left vacant when Harold and his wife returned to New York, was left to Wendell Hurlbut’s ownership and ultimately fell into foreclosure in 1909.  In 1911, the mansion was offered for sale.

A MEANINGFUL PAST . . .

Used by permission from University of Idaho Library Special Collections Department

In 1912 the property, 2.15 acres including outbuildings, was purchased by the Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society, and, beginning in 1914, the mansion served as the Lewiston Children’s Home for thousands of orphaned, deserted or mistreated children in North Idaho. 56 years later,  the Lewiston Children’s Home closed and the mansion was again offered for sale.

A CHANGING OF HANDS, NOT OF PURPOSE . . .

The grounds of the Hurlbut Mansion property continue to carry the footprints of children growing to reach their own unique potentials.  Small voices in song echo down hallways as sunlight falls through open windows to land on smiling, learning faces.

Mr. Roy Burke, a Clarkston, WA, businessman, purchased the mansion property in the early 1960s, and in 1966-1968 he leased the property to the Idaho Head Start Association for what has grown to become the Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program. Direct ownership of the 2.15 acre property and buildings was transferred from Roy Burke to his son, James Burke, and the Idaho Head Start/Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program moved its classrooms and offices into the outbuildings.

View the impact Head Start has made by reading these testimonials.

A MOMENT OF MENTION . . .

Idaho State Historical Society Certificate

In 1982 the Idaho State Historical Society nominated the Hurlbut Mansion for placement on the  National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historical and architectural significance. The property was not originally listed, due to an objection by the owner, but it did obtain placement on February 23, 2007, as the Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society of North Idaho. View the listing here.

FOLLOWED BY DARK DAYS . . .

The hardwood floors are cold and marred, spindles are broken from the balustrade to burn in the fireplace, and broken windows leave vacant rooms open to the ravages of weather.
Beginning with the transference of ownership of the property to James Burke and the subsequent vacation of the home by Head Start, the Hurlbut Mansion was allowed to fall into deep disrepair.

Image by Jan Boles, used by permission from The Idaho Heritage Trust

In 2001 plans were underway for LCECP to purchase the property outright from James Burke. A stipulation of the bank’s officials required that the Hurlbut Mansion itself be torn down as a condition to their lending on the remainder of the property. Plans to create an expanded parking  area to serve the families of Head Start were accepted, and demolition of the mansion was set for December 2001. The public outcry against this action was immediate, both from our community and from those elsewhere who had lived in the mansion as children.

REMEMBRANCE & REPRIEVE . . .

“I don’t know what would have happened to us if we hadn’t had the time in-between to be at the children’s home,”

“I don’t want that house to go down. I feel like that house saved my life.”

“The first time I saw TV was in the living room.  We had our half an hour on Thursday afternoons before dinner time and we got to see the Mickey Mouse Club.”

“I first saw the article in last week’s paper about the demolition and I was sick. I said ‘they can’t do this.’ They cannot tear this house down. It is too gorgeous. It is too beautiful.”

Quotes from Lewiston Tribune article dated 12/31/01

In 2002 Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program purchased the Hurlbut Mansion property, in its entirety, from the Burke family and, honoring the requests of our community, began a revision of its plans for the mansion.

A BRIGHTER VISION . . .

The Hurlbut Mansion, once rehabilitated, will reflect its original beauty and its historic significance. Ambitious plans are developing that propose to re-establish the mansion as a facility for benefitting children and their families. A creative learning lab for children, primarily ages 3 & 4, is foremost in the planning. Many of the 15 rooms will house interactive displays designed to stimulate brain development by drawing children into exploration of painting, sculpture, dance, theater and music. Other areas of the building will be used as a resource center for all members of the families that participate in LCECP programs. A section of the home will educate visitors on the history of the mansion, its significance to Lewiston and North Idaho, and architect Kirtland K. Cutter. The mansion will also be made available for private and public community gatherings. Learn more about our Vision for Hurlbut Mansion.

WITH YOUR HELP . . .

We heard you ask us to save this building. We listened. We have a plan, but we cannot do it alone. If you value of this building, its history and its future, please help us now by donating online today.

If you have memories of the Hurlbut Mansion or the Lewiston Children’s Home,  we would be honored if you would share them with us here.

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