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Biz Buzz: Historic building in downtown Idaho Falls getting remodeled. Here’s what makes it special.

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Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.

BIZ BUZZ

IDAHO FALLS

Business owner gives new life to historic building in downtown Idaho Falls

face lift on park avenue
Worker removing old brick from top floor of old Variety Mart building at 365 Park Avenue in downtown Idaho Falls. | Courtesy John Page

IDAHO FALLS – One of several major renovation projects on Park Avenue in downtown Idaho Falls is a three-story building at 365 Park Avenue. From prostitutes to a pawn shop, the building has more than a century of history.

Page Insurance is the current owner of the building. Most of the employees have been working from home during the remodel, but a couple of employees have had a presence there since February. Company owner John Page tells EastIdahoNews.com they’re hoping to have everything completed sometime this summer.

“We’ve been working on the demolition forever. Everything just takes longer than you think,” Page says. “When we purchased the building last fall, we thought we could do this remodel pretty quickly, but everything just seems to be delayed. We don’t have a set date. I don’t think we could even hit it if we did. There could be some unforeseen surprises.”

Page Insurance provides auto, home and business insurance for customers throughout eastern Idaho. It first opened at 1341 East 17th Street in 1999. It moved to Ammon near Majestic Auto Body about six years ago before moving to its current spot in downtown.

Page says the opportunity to move downtown was appealing to him for several reasons.

“I like the greenbelt down here. I like the community, and being part of the action was really appealing to me,” he says. “Part of it is the history, too. I like the roots of Idaho Falls. Being born and raised here, I like the idea that we can be part of the community.”

RELATED | 105-year-old building in downtown Idaho Falls is getting a facelift

Before Page Insurance occupied the space, it hosted a pawn shop called Variety Mart, which closed in 2019 after 19 years of business.

The building’s history dates back to 1915, according to Musem of Idaho spokesman Jeff Carr. Edward Rowles owned a clothing company on the ground floor called Rowles-Mack Co.

rowles mack interior
‘An interior shot of Rowles-Mack in its earliest days (c. 1915). Not sure if one of these two men is Rowles,’ Carr says. | Courtesy Museum of Idaho

“Rowles moved from Blackfoot to Idaho Falls in 1914 to start Rowles-Mack, which was first in the BWM Building on Broadway (where Shaddow Domain is now). It moved to the location on Park Avenue (a short time later),” says Carr. “Rowles-Mack also had stores in Rexburg, Blackfoot, Pocatello, and Twin Falls. Rowles was a founding member of the Idaho Falls Rotary Club, built one of the city’s most interesting Classical Revival houses at 135 North Placer and was killed in 1942 when hit by a truck downtown while walking to his store.”

Page says a brothel was located on the third floor for about 40 years. Sometime in its early history, it also housed a women’s clinic.

Roper Clothing Co. took over the ground level in 1964 and remained in business until 1975. The Deseret News had an office on the top floor for several years, starting about 1955.

historic photo 365 park avenue
Historic photo of the building currently occupied by Page Insurance. About 1955, it was home to the Deseret News and Rowles-Mack clothing store. | Courtesy John Page

A jewelry and boutique store operated in the building at different times between 1977 and 1983. Ross Coin & Gun later occupied it for two years starting in 1984.

It sat vacant for several years before Variety Mart took it over in 1990.

“It (Variety Mart) had quite a following. We still have people stopping by to look at (the building) saying they’d been to the pawnshop,” Page says. “They sold quite a few different things.”

Once renovations are complete, Page says he and his team will occupy the third floor, and he’s planning to lease out the rest of the space.

Despite the delays in construction, Page says he’s excited to be part of downtown and would eventually like to have a grand opening to highlight the building’s history.

“I think it’s our forever home at least for the foreseeable future — the next 20 years,” says Page. “I’d like to continue doing what we’re doing and be the No. 1 destination for auto and home insurance in southeast Idaho.”

Visit Page Insurance’s website or Facebook page for more information.

variety mart pic
A recent photo of Variety Mart before it closed. | Courtesy John Page

BIZ BITS

New medical center in eastern Idaho offering ‘the first of its kind’ treatment for drug abuse and mental health issues

POCATELLO – A new center aimed at helping those with drug addictions and mental health issues is now open in Pocatello and Idaho Falls. America Health Urgent Care operates the centers, which opened several months ago. America Health Urgent Care Owner Ryan Hatch tells EastIdahoNews.com each facility is designed to provide high-intensity treatment for patients, whether they’re working with a medical provider for a medically assisted detox or are in need of counseling services. These clinics are the first of their kind in eastern Idaho and offer a unique approach to substance abuse treatment, Hatch says.

The Pocatello location is at 415 Yellowstone Avenue and is hosting its official grand opening Friday, June 4, and Saturday, June 5, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information about the clinic will be provided during the event, and free food and treats will be available.

The Idaho Falls location is at 1810 West Broadway inside the old TRPTA building. Its open house will be Friday, June 25, from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A local hotline is available 24/7 for those needing assistance with these types of services. The number is (208) 523-HELP.

Local airport gearing up for annual air show Father’s Day weekend

REXBURG – Looking forward but remembering the past. That’s the theme for this year’s airshow hosted by the Legacy Flight Museum in Rexburg. The free event kicks off at 9 a.m. on June 19 and will feature a variety of aircraft aerobatics and pyrotechnics. With food vendors, souvenirs and historic warbirds, it promises to be a memorable event. Bring your family and enjoy the show in the sky from the tarmac at the Rexburg-Madison County Airport. A more in-depth story will be posted soon at EastIdahoNews.com.

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