Is This the Strangest Building in Idaho?
Idaho is home to some amazing homes and buildings. Also some very unique ones, then you add some history to that and you have a perfect combo for some interesting buildings with interesting stories. There is even an airbnb that is shaped like a dog. You can read more and see photos of that here. We cant forget about the Potato shaped Airbnb either, check that out here. As unique and strange as a house shaped like a dog or a potato is, this home, well building really, beat them out for the strangest in all of Idaho.
If you have driven through Idaho City it is hard to miss. A place that must be seen in person to get the full perspective and appreciation for this spectacle. According to Atlas Obscura, back in the 1860s Idaho City was quite the gold rush town. In fact it was one of the Old West's largest mining towns with a massive population over 7,000 residents. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold were mined there over the years. Now however, things have changed quite a bit for the town. Idaho Falls is now a bit more like half real town, half ghost town.
One thing that Idaho City has done brilliantly is hold on to the special history that made it. While the gold rush days may be long gone, the city still holds the boomtown atmosphere and old west charm. Idaho City has quite a set up and presence as a tourist population and is also a fantastic spot for outdoor recreation. There are plenty of artifacts, landmarks, museums and cool things to see for anyone passing through.
One building in particular is impossible not to notice and stop to gander at for awhile.
Idaho in 91 Days describes it as, "...it’s among the most eccentric structures we’ve seen anywhere in the States. It is the strangest and coolest house we had yet seen in Idaho, and we spent a long time admiring it from every angle."
The building is an antique shop called "The Sluice Box" according to the website, "Ruthie and Larry Carter have owned and operated The Sluice Box since it was created. Larry came up with the idea while living in Nampa Idaho with their two daughters. Shortly after, they packed up and moved to the mountains. The store was originally opened around the 1970’s in the Down-town area, where it quickly became one of the most popular stores. The owners then moved the store into the Up-town area, into a late 1980’s building where it stayed until it was burned to the ground in November of 1996.
Larry, one of the owners, at the age of 67 and dealing with minor medical issues, immediately started restoring some of the original building as well as adding some additional space that was built with genuine barn wood. He collected the barn wood, signs and other mementos from all over Idaho, Nevada and California. Up until around 2005 and at the age of 76, Larry still found the time and strength to add to his master plan. He has built towering eves, curved stairways, false rooms and a wide array of windowed lookouts on top of his masterpiece. If you ever asked Larry, he would always reply with a smile; that the tower on top of the store was built to invite any wondering souls..."
The store sold in July of 2014 but no one has done anything with it and it sits abandoned. It is fascinating to look at and if you are able to carefully see in any windows you can see dusty antiques all over. Certainly worth a visit when going in, by or through Idaho City.
Check out these other strange houses, or at least homes with a surprise or that makes them unique in Idaho.