Paris City

Bear Lake County, Idaho

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Paris City Hall is located at 62 South Main Street, Paris, ID 83261.
Phone: 208-945-2253.

Doctor George Ashley House

The city limits of Paris define the boundaries for the National Park Service Multiple Resource Area: Historic Resources of Paris, added to the National Register in 1982.

Historic Resources of Paris [†]

With adoption of the Homestead Act of 1862, Mormon church authorities embarked upon a policy of expansion of their Utah settlements. Aside from providing new lands for a population too large to accomodate in their existing holdings, they needed to insulate their established communities from potential anti-Mormon settlers who otherwise might occupy valleys adjacent to Salt Lake. Bear Lake Valley offered a good outlet so long as colonists there did not object to cold winters which compensated for pleasant summers. Apostle Charles C. Rich, already experienced as the founder of San Bernardino, was assigned to this project by Ezra Taft Benson and Brigham Young. With only a minimum of notice, Rich established Paris on September 26, 1863, so that spring crops could be planted in time for a short growing season in 1864. A diverse group of settlers, chosen to form a self-sufficient community, answered Rich's call.

The pattern of Paris townsite and its agricultural land identifies the town as having been settled, as was San Bernardino, in close correspondence with the village-system arrangement which characterized much of the Mormon colonies in the Intermountain West, as described in Richard V. Francaviglia's The Mormon Landscape and John W. Reps' Cities of the American West. Paris, among Idaho's oldest and best-preserved examples of the strict grid plan, wide streets, central green, and surrounding fields, was developed after the model of Jo seph Smith's City of Zion plat. Paris' interest and significance lies not only in the physical structure of the town but in its long continuous development as an active community, in the layers of its architectural and social history.

Paris' relations with both Mormon and Idaho history are still visible in striking fashion in the town as it is viewed today. Several of the sites included have added significance for their association with figures of local or statewide importance. Most notably, the Wives of Charles C. Rich Historic District represents the living pattern of the founding pioneers of Paris. Apostle Charles Rich was the religious and civic leader of Paris until his death in 1884. He also served as Major General of the Nauvoo Legion and continued to represent Bear Lake Valley in the Utah Legislature after the area was recognized as part of Idaho in 1872. His son, Joseph, whose barn is here included, was an active member of the Paris community as a surveyor, teacher, newspaper editor, mail carrier and merchant, and served in the Idaho Legislature. Eimeline Rich was a doctor of long standing in Paris. With fifty-two children and too many grandchildren for anyone to keep track of, Rich established a family there unsurpassed in the Pacific Northwest.

William Budge, another prominent Mormon figure, played a large role in Idaho's religious life and political affairs. His large family is represented by three generations of houses; the Alfred Budge house, the Julia Budge cottage and the Taft Budge bungalow. Alfred Budge achieved personal success as a Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, and his son, Hamer, as congressman and chairman of the Securities and Exchange commission. Of more local note are Robert Price and J. U. Stucki, who both had status in the local church hierarchy and were influential figures in Paris' commerce, politics, and government. Price's shingle and planing mill and his house exhibit his role in providing wood products to the town. Stucki, one of Paris' several Swiss immigrants, was Stake clerk for forty years. He owned a private dairy and was on the board of directors of the Paris Cooperative Institution.*

Actually, virtually all of Paris' important families and individuals are represented by one of several sites, a fact which serves to suppport the visual recognition of the high degree of preservation of history and architecture in this town.

The present inventory of architectural properties in Paris has noteworthy architectural and historical significance on several levels. Each of the individual sites has architectural importance in a local context and of the ninety-one selected for this nomination, are considered to have statewide significance. In addition, many of the sites relate closely to the special history of the town as a whole, which is distinguished by its age, in Idaho terms, and by its illustration of some of the patterns of Mormon material culture in the Intermountain West during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The preservation of the physical characteristics of the town since its settlement in 1863 and through successive phases of architectural development extending into the 1930's is unsurpassed in Idaho.

One of the distinguishing features of this inventory has been the identification and inclusion of examples of traditional building types, both residential and utilitarian. These resources ally Paris with the architectural patterns of Mormon settlement in Utah, but make it a rare cultural resource in Idaho. While the hall-and-parlor cabin form is found throughout the West, the squarish southern mountain cabin has not been extensively observed in Idaho. Thus its repeated presence in Paris, both a freestanding unit as in the Keller house and as the core of a larger, more stylish house, e.g. the Nye house, is of statewide significance. The hall-and-parlor, though a more common form, appears here in log, as in the Sleight cabin, which is exemplary of the earliest structures built at Paris; in balloon-frame construction with siding which bears the mark of a circular saw as in the Oren Law house; and in adobe brick, in the five early houses grouped as the Wives of Charles C. Rich Historic District. These are the only extant examples of structural use of this material, which was favored by Mormon settlements in the drier south but never achieved popular status in this timber abundant region. These nearly identical houses, grouped in or next to a single town block, graphically illustrate the physical logistics of polygamous living in Paris, and the strict democracy with which it was practiced by Paris' founding pioneer.

The larger houses of the 1880's are characterized not only by their variety of stylistic display, but by the predominance of the I-house in Paris' residential scheme. This midwestern-generated house type has been found to be concentrated in Mormon culture areas in the West and was, probably, as the southern mountain cabin, transmitted in the massive emigration movements of the middle of the nineteenth century. In Paris the I-house, generally one and one-half stories, was most often combined with one or several cabin-form additions to produce a house of more complex plan. The Nye house, Stucki house and Spencer house are examples of this additive composition. A surprising combination of folk form and sophisticated stylistic reference are the many mansards of Paris of which six have been nominated. The mansard roof is a very rare occurence in all of Idaho. Its prolific existence in Paris is unprecedented, even in the state's larger cities where the Second Empire style occasionally appeared as part of a surge of Victorian taste. The mansard roof in Paris is really the only element of the style used on these houses, placed on a traditional body. Several of these mansards, the Jacob Tueller, Jr. house, the Cole house and the Weilermann house, exhibit the work of local masons who were eventually responsible for a majority of the town's residential and commercial brickwork. Several of the mansard-roofed houses are frame, most notably the eccentrically-composed and well-sited Alfred Budge house, which is Paris' premier example of additive building.

Because of the patterned nature of Paris' houses, the work of the local carpenters is most visible in their decoration. A number of the residences have been nominated under the category of "craft" for their fine ornament, the best examples of the liberal and varied use of locally-produced millwork: e.g., the Nye house, the George Ashley, Sr. house. Paris did not frequently adopt the general Mormon fondness for classical revival styles, either in residential or religious architecture. Instead, the vernacular housetypes and decorations naturally gave way to the Queen Anne in the 'nineties, but never with very much deviance from time-honored compositions. The J.R. Shepherd house, the most pretentious house in town and the most conspicuous local model extant of Queen Anne, is noticeably regular in disposition of masses and conservative in juxtaposition of materials and ornament. Its construction by a rising young entrepreneur in post-co-op Paris prompted a flurry of Queen Anne cottages including the vaguely Eastlake George Ashley, Jr. house and at least two series of formular building in the Queen Anne mode: the Lewis and Allred cottages and the Dan Price and Arthur Pendry houses. As with the mansard houses, these sites demonstrate the town's continual affection for traditional forms and its efforts, at least externally, to present an image of progress.

The John Tueller, Sr. house and J.W. Cook house, built around 1905, are Paris' most handsome brick houses and demonstrate the town's consistent taste for substantiality in the classicized, more regular mode of late Queen Anne.

The arrival of the bungalow in 1907 with the Morris Low house changed the scale of Paris' residential building. This date is a relatively early one in this remote part of Idaho for the development of this later widespread style. Malad, a Mormon town then of similar size, did not experience a burst of bungalow-building until 1915. Paris' bungalows display the same combination of inventive rendering of repeated types as do the I-houses. The hipped roof shape was often reproduced as was the broad front-facing gable type, as in the Allred, Fred Price and Jaussi bungalows. Their significance in Paris lies not in their particular distinction from the rest of Idaho's architecture of the 'teens, but in their absorption into the visual vocabulary of a town which had established culturally-distinctive patterns of building.

In commercial and institutional building, the present inventory is dominated by the products of the last major building push on Paris' Main Street: the Browning Block, Hotel Paris and the Public School; all date from around 1917. At this time the street was narrowed from one hundred thirty-two feet to ninetynine feet, the only significant alteration to the original plat to occur in the town's history. The extension of the facade of the Bear Lake Market to meet the new roadbed is an indication of the town's desire to retain the linear quality of Main Street despite this change. Older commercial buildings are also represented in Pendry's Drug Store which shows the old line of Main Street and Sticky Taylor's Candy Factory, an example of the numerous false-front shops which were later supplanted by brick structures but whose form was carried on past 1900 in business structures such as the Paris Lumber Company.

The religious component of the town's history and the symbolic importance of its institutional buildings is represented by the old Tithing Office and later Stake Administration building both in brick and occupying a prominent place opposite the sandstone Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle, a major state monument already listed in the National Register.

The Stake Office, Hotel Paris and the Public School, as well as the particularly fine Les Shepherd bungalow, all show Prairie influences, another style relatively sparse in Idaho which Paris seemed to adopt with enthusiasm. The curious attachments to certain forms or modes of building simply reinforces the sense of the town as a unit, which developed collectively.

Six sites are being nominated in exception to the standard guidelines for architecturally significant properties: two are not yet age-fcligible, two are the foundations of no-longer extant buildings, and two have been moved from their original sites. The L.D.S. Seminary of 1931 and the 1937 remodeling of the Novelty Theater are both considered of sufficient importance in the context of Paris' development to warrant inclusion. The Seminary, a schematic Greek Revival building, was the last of the town's educational buildings and, as such, was an integral part of its institutional life. The Novelty, in its 1937 provincial Deco garb reflects both Paris' desire for the appearance of sophistication and the designer's association of the movie theater, as in other small towns, with urban culture. It is the most self-conscious stylistic reference in Paris' architecture.

The Fielding Academy and Paris Roller Mill sites contain the physical remains of structures extremely important to the town. The Academy, the only axiallyplaced building in Paris, was an impressive architectural structure built with local materials and labor which, as a Stake-administered institution, educated the Mormon majority in Paris for twenty-five years. The Roller Mill, originally a three-story building, was the descendant of an early commercial enterprise in Paris, one which helped feed the town into the 1950's.

The Sleight cabin was situated on the banks of Paris Creek until around 1900 when it was moved to its present site on Main Street. It has undisputable significance as the only cabin extant from the original settlement, one which has been preserved by the town. The Sticky Taylor Candy Factory, moved to its present location in the 1940's, still retains its Main Street vantage and though removed from the business core is still evocative of most of the commercial structures of the co-op period of the 1880's.

Adapted from: Patricia Wright, Architectural Historian; Madeline Buckendorg, Oral Historian; Kennifer Katman Atterbury, Folklorist; Lisa B. Reitzes, Architectural Historian; Historic Resources of Paris, ID, nomination document. 1980, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Towns: Montpelier City •

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