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Nampa wins two honors for historic preservation

Reprinted from the Idaho Press Tribune, June 27, 2009
By Press Tribune Staff

Annual 'Orchids and Onions' awards recognize efforts in downtown, at historic structure

NAMPA — Nampa won honors twice Saturday for its high priority to preserve historic buildings.

Partnering with the Nampa Historic Preservation Commission, Preservation Idaho and The Idaho Historic Preservation Council held the annual "Orchids and Onions" awards ceremony Saturday in Nampa's Masonic Event Center. 

An orchid honors individuals and organizations that have made a positive contribution to historic preservation. Onions are presented to bring awareness to projects that contribute to the unnecessary loss of Idaho's history.

At the awards ceremony, the city of Nampa received recognition for its Downtown Nampa Façade Rehabilitation Grant Program. So far, seven projects have been completed, renovating and rehabilitating historic buildings in the city's core.

The program, initiated in 2006, is financed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and covers up to 50 percent of the cost of renovation of historic structures for projects that meet the program's requirements. Typical projects have ranged in cost between $60,000 and $120,000.

The Nampa projects have brought the downtown core back to life, awards officials said.

"The HUD funding that they were able to secure is something I think other small communities and towns should take advantage of," Preservation Idaho Board President Dan Everhart said. "Nampa has done a good job using it not only to revitalize their downtown but at the same time to bring about a renovation of some of these historic buildings. It's about the true revitalization of the downtown as well."

Nampa's Overland/Crescent Brewery on 9th Street North also received honors.

Designed in 1907, the complex brewed Overland Lager until it closed in 1952, according to Preservation Idaho officials. After its demolition in 1966 for urban renewal, only the office and bottling plant survived. In 2007 and 2008, Triad Distributing used the historic building as the cornerstone of its business operations.

"It's pretty amazing that people have put the time and money into these properties that otherwise would be neglected," Everhart said. "It's actually pretty remarkable, not just because it was renovated, but because there has been a lot of attention paid to downtown or downtown proper on the south side of the tracks, and not a lot of attention paid to the north side of the tracks."

Cities recognize Nampa program

NAMPA — The city of Nampa also garnered recognition for the Downtown Historic Façade Restoration program during the 62nd Association of Idaho Cities Annual Conference.

The Historic Façade Restoration Program is designed to assist downtown building owners to return buildings that are 50 or more years old to their historic look.

The City Achievement Award recognizes Idaho cities for programs or projects that improve quality of life, solve community problems, reduce costs of government and increase municipal services with minimal additional dollar outlay.

• Caldwell received Association of Idaho Cities honors for its Bike Patrol police program and its Winter Wonderland Holiday Lighting Display and Celebration. 

Boise School District gets 'Onion'

The Boise School District received an Onion Award from Preservation Idaho for the demolition of South Junior High School.

South Junior High was constructed in 1948. After serving the district for 60 years, the building was demolished to make way for a new facility on the site.

"In this instance, despite the efforts of Preservation Idaho, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and hundreds of other individuals and organizations which proved that the retention of the building would cost slightly less than new construction, the district chose to demolish the National Register eligible structure for a soulless new building," officials from Preservation Idaho said. "This serves as a reminder that half a dozen other historic school buildings are threatened in similar ways and their fate will be the same without action by the community at large."