Coeur d’Alene’s ‘City Within A City’

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  • Log Cabin, 1966, 213 west Appleway, north side; the site of the mini-mall now located between the Exxon station and Taco Bell.

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    Coeur d’Alene Mall with Canfield Mountain in the background, home of Sprouse-Reitz, Kinney Shoes and Buttery’s. January 1967.

  • Log Cabin, 1966, 213 west Appleway, north side; the site of the mini-mall now located between the Exxon station and Taco Bell.

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    Coeur d’Alene Mall with Canfield Mountain in the background, home of Sprouse-Reitz, Kinney Shoes and Buttery’s. January 1967.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories about the history of present-day Appleway Avenue and the businesses on Fourth Street leading to it.

NEW CD’A DISTRICT HAS HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Coeur d’Alene’s newest shopping center – at the curve on N. Fourth Street – will be the scene of holiday activities beginning today.

A huge Christmas tree has been erected at the curve, decorated with hundreds of lights, and music appropriate to this season of the year is being played from a recording machine in the background.

Businessmen in the district have formed an association to promote this new shopping center and plan a contest, for the very near future, to choose an appropriate name for the shopping district. (The name chosen in 1949 was the Sunset Heights Business District.)

- Coeur d’Alene Press, Dec. 21, 1948

This “city within a city” shopping center, as it was called in a full-page advertisement in the Coeur d’Alene Press in 1949, should not be confused with the present Coeur d’Alene Mall along Appleway between Government Way and Fourth. It was, rather, the group of businesses that lined Fourth heading north into Appleway and continuing west just past Government Way.

Very little remains of this important district in the tourist industry of Coeur d’Alene. The roads are still there and are heavily traveled, but the curves have been paved over and most of the businesses are long gone.

Little has been written about this area, and as time passes along, it is important to preserve this wonderful history.

How to do that?

For those of us who are older, we have memories of

the places along this strip – the Elkhorn, Marie’s Café (later the Four Seasons), Elsie’s Dakota Café, Jekyll and Hyde’s, and, of course, John’s Bargain House, to name a few.

But to go further back in time and see how this area came about is challenging.

Aerial photographs do exist, but they do not tell which building is which. Actual photographs of the buildings are great, but sometimes hard to place. The business directories are often confusing as to addresses (the east vs. west Appleway addresses are especially confused in these directories). Older phone books do not always have an address.

People’s memories are often cloudy.

In my own experience, the best research material has been old newspapers, especially for when a business was built, bought or sold.

That requires staring at microfilm of the Coeur d’Alene Press or, better yet, gently paging though the actual old newspapers at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.

Using all of these resources, including a few lucky finds at the tax assessor’s office we can, in fact, go back in time.

The route of the Apple Way — also known as the Yellowstone Trail or, from 1926, U.S. Highway 10 — from the Spokane Bridge to Coeur d’Alene, was established in 1914 by the commissioners of Kootenai County.

It was first paved in 1922. At that time, Highway 10 followed Fourth street north out of the city and then curved along Appleway, heading west to the state line. U.S. 95, called the North South Highway at the time, also followed Fourth street north out of the city, curving west onto Appleway but then curving north onto Government Way.

The curves are long since paved over, but aerial photos, such as those found on Google maps, clearly show the concrete paved curves under newer pavement.

In the late 1930s, Northwest Boulevard was created, rerouting U.S.10 to a more direct route into the city from the west and bypassing Appleway and north Fourth.

A battle ensued from the businesses along this old route, demanding the new Northwest Boulevard route be signed as alternate 10 and the older route as U.S. 10. Even though the new route was officially signed as U.S. 10 and Appleway as U.S. 10 alternate, most commercial road maps up until the late 1950s show the opposite.

In the early 1940s, U.S. 95 was rerouted from north Fourth Street to the newly completed Government Way south of Appleway.

In spite of these new routes, businesses and traffic kept increasing until, in the late 1950s, the first part of Interstate 90 (the Coeur d’Alene Belt Route) was built around the city.

A bit later, in 1966, the Coeur d’Alene Mall opened at the northwest corner of Government Way and Appleway, with both Buttrey’s and Montgomery Ward as anchor stores.

From that time on, the area began to change, as smaller motels and cafes were replaced with larger chain motels and fast food restaurants. That is the end of the story.

Here is the beginning.

For the motels west of Government Way, I have listed their addresses at the time.

1. The Willow/Aurora Motel - 722 West Appleway, south side, just west of Silver Spruce Motel. The original address is listed as 721, but at some point the even/odd numbers on this section of Appleway were flipped.

Built in 1950, the Willow Motel consisted of only seven units in one long building. The tax assessor noted it was poorly constructed. By 1954, it was known as the Aurora Motel and was owned for a long time, from 1956 to the 1970s, by Everett L. Tipton. By 1978, it had become apartments and then in 1984, after being vacant for some time, the building was removed. Specialty Recreation and Marine is now in that location.

2. Silver Spruce Motel – 714 West Appleway, southwest intersection of Appleway and North Howard. The original address was 715, before the numbers were flipped.

Built in 1953 by Ernie Carpenter and his wife, Marjorie, the Silver Spruce was owned from 1956 to 1965 by Al and Loleta Mellick and then by Vern Heald. Unlike the Willow motel, it had the typical U-shaped drive with three units clustered around. Damaged by a fire in 1980, it was vacant by 1988 and burned in a fire exercise in 1991. Bob Silhavy owned an interest in the motel, selling it in 1983. He was a Bataan Death March survivor and the first person in Idaho to receive a special vehicle license plate for POWs. His plate was POW 1. His wife had pushed for this for 10 years. Asthma and Allergy of Idaho, as well as a wing of the Shilo Inn, now occupy the space.

3. Mac’s Motel – 611 West Appleway, northeast intersection of Appleway and North Howard. Original address was 708 W. Appleway.

Built in 1942, Mac’s Motel consisted of 13 units surrounding a pleasant green courtyard. The owner, Floyd McCullough, had 23 signs advertising his motel placed from State Line to Coeur d’Alene. In 1951, vandals tore them all down. By 1969, the motel had gone through a number of various owners and was in poor condition. It was a trailer court by 1975 and also was listed as the Appleway Apartments in a 1977 business directory. The next year, it was demolished. Boston’s Brew, the coffee stand in the west parking lot of Carpet Warehouse, sits close to the motel’s location. The vacant lot west of that was also part of the motel grounds.

4. The Sunset Motel – 221 West Appleway, north side.

In 1948, construction was started on the Sunset Motel. Finished by 1949, it was a long building with eight units owned by Leah I. Walker. The motel was set back a bit from the road. In 1949, Ejnar Frandsen bought the motel, owning it until 1956 when it was purchased by William T. Shaw who operated it into the 1970s. In 1978 it was not only listed in the directory as apartments, it was also the Badd Manor Pizza and Steakery restaurant, built just south of the motel, between the motel and the road. At some point the motel/apartments were removed. You can still see some remains in the back of the current property. By 1981 the restaurant was called Glady’s of Idaho and became Bonanza in the late 1980s. Currently, it is Tomato Street.

5. The Log Cabin Beer Parlor – 213 West Appleway, north side.

Many folks have fond memories of the Log Cabin which has not been gone all that long. If you stand in the parking lot surrounded by the three-sided mini-mall currently sitting there, you are standing just about where it was located. Emil Fischbach built it as a tavern in 1937. Just to the east of it, at the intersection of Government Way and Appleway, was the Junction Terminal for the Coeur d’Alene-Wallace bus route. Across the street was Arnold’s Cabin Camp, so the beer parlor did a great business. By 1947, it was owned by Ed and Peggy Hocevar who renamed it the Log Cabin Steak House and owned it until Ed’s death in 1973. Trailer courts were built around the place in 1965, just about where the stores are now. In 1974, it was sold to Douglas Weed. So many people still recall the great breakfasts and great service there. Many Coeur d’Alene natives had their “first time food” there, everything from chicken fried steak to lobster tail. But, by 1998, the restaurant was no more.

Editor’s note: Next week, we will learn about more of the businesses that once graced this highly traveled area of Coeur d’Alene.

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This story and photos were first published in the Museum of North Idaho’s 2017 newsletters and are shared with Coeur Voice readers courtesy of Tom Flanagan and the Museum of North Idaho, 115 Northwest Boulevard, Coeur d’Alene. For more information about the museum, visit www.museumni.org.

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