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 at a cost of $20,000, 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.
A MEANINGFUL PAST . . .
JP McCann, lived next door to the Hurlbuts, in his own mansion which is now called Troy Insurance. He purchased the Hurlbut Mansion from the bank in 1909 and held on to it only a few years before offering it for sale for $14,000. The governing board of the northern branch of the Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society of North Idaho decided to purchase the mansion, and applied for a grant from the state to help. As is common today, the grant award came in the form of a challenge–the state would pay $7,000 if the community came up with $7,000 to match the grant funds. A successful campaign to raise money was organized. Through pledges from individuals,organizations and contributions by most of the 10 northern counties in Idaho, the funds needed to buy the mansion were provided.
The Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society stayed in the mansion for five and a half decades. Growing pains and a mounting bill for repairs drew the attention of George F. Jewett, president of Potlatch forests, Inc., who had decided to relocate headquarters in San Francisco. Hearing of the need for the Children’s Home to find a new facility, he offered his estate in west Lewiston. Now known as the Northwest Children’s Home, the orphanage evolved with the times. Its mission today is to provide rehabilitative, therapeutic and educational services for children and families.
Vacated in 1966, the Community Action Agency was granted permission to use the unoccupied building. In 1972 Community Action relocated. The mansion was then sold to Roy and Janet Burke in 1972, who intended to make the building an extension of their Clarkston furniture store. However, the Planning and Zoning Commission objected to the use claiming the mansion to be in a “residential district.”
A CHANGING OF HANDS, NOT OF PURPOSE . . .
Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program purchased the buildings and properties surrounding the Hurlbut Mansion after leasing the grounds for years. A regional provider of Head Start, Early Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, LCECP provided a critical service to the community, and steadily expanded. Today LCECP is the regional provider of quality early childhood education in five Idaho counties and Asotin County in Washington.
By 2001 plans were underway for LCECP to purchase the mansion 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 deemed acceptable by the lending agency, and demolition of the mansion was set for December 2001. The public outcry against this action was immediate, both from the community and from those elsewhere who had lived in the mansion as children. 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.
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
A MOMENT OF MENTION . . .
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.
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 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.