Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kress Building in downtown Idaho Falls recognized by Preservation Idaho

Built in 1929 after the Idaho Falls Fire Department moved to Shoup Avenue, the Kress Building, home now to Channel Blend, has been a downtown landmark for 85 years.
One of the crown jewels of downtown Idaho Falls has been recognized this year by Preservation Idaho, which has announced its 37th Annual Orchids and Onions Awards.

The Kress Building on Park Avenue, home now to Channel Blend, is one of three being recognized in the Excellence in Historic Preservation category.

"The renovation of this downtown landmark provides an example to other owners of historic commercial properties that historic preservation efforts can achieve astonishing results with modest investment and attention to detail," said the press release announcing the award.

Every year, Preservation Idaho hosts this awards ceremony, designed to celebrate individuals and organizations that have made positive contribution to historic preservation in Idaho.

Built in 1929 on the site of the original Idaho Falls Fire Station, the Park Avenue property between A and B streets got a makeover in 2007-08.

The upper floor of the has 10,000 square feet. New heating, ventilation and air conditioning were installed, the tin ceiling was repainted and the floors were refinished.

Employing nearly 200 people downtown, Channel Blend is a company that provides call center services and lead qualification for insurance companies and other business clients.

CEO Jeff Neiswanger said at the time he was certain that restoring the building would have a ripple effect, and he was right.

At the risk of editorializing, it's pretty obvious the '20s and '30s were a time when businessmen had a lot more pride in their names than they do today. The S.H. Kress chain of discount department stores disappeared for good in 1981, but if you look up at the pediment of the building his name endures.

In the National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America, writer David Gebhard singled out Kress stores as examples of architectural excellence: "All of these are sophisticated designs, and some ... are outstanding examples of the popular Moderne."

The 37th Annual Orchids & Onions Awards Ceremony will take place May 31 at 11 a.m. at the Mountain Cove Gym, Veterans Administration Medical Center in Boise. To read more online, visit www.preservationidaho.org/orchids-onions.

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