Strolling Through the Past

Meridian Historic Walking Tour Offers Tidbits of Town History

Article by Jordan Gray

Photography by City of Meridian & Provided

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

If you’ve ever strolled through downtown Meridian, perhaps you’ve spotted a bright red, yellow, and blue sidewalk marker emblazoned with “Meridian History Walk.” Maybe you’ve glanced at the building behind it, read a plaque, or just appreciated the architecture.

But more history is waiting if you know where to look.

Get Started

The Meridian Historic Walking Tour is a self-guided tour of 23 locations around Meridian brimming with history. Once you’ve slipped on some good moseying shoes, charged your smartphone, filled your water bottle, and put on some sunblock, you can choose one of the following ways to start your tour:

1.     Grab a map booklet (available at Meridian City Hall or Main Street’s Generations Plaza).

2.     Look up tour locations on meridiancity.org/history/walkingtour.

3.     Download the “Meridian Historic Tour” app. The app notifies you when you arrive at a tour location, gives access to more detailed site histories, and offers videos from Meridian historian Lila Hill.

Each tour stop has a distinctive story, with one stop hearkening back almost to when the area was renamed from “Hunter” to “Meridian” in 1894. (That’s the Nourse House at 211 E. State Avenue, which was built in 1898.)

With plenty to see, here’s a few stops you won’t want to miss.

Pine Street School (915 NW. 1st Street)

This building started its life in 1921 as a Meridian Rural High School overflow classroom. It was restored as a one-room schoolhouse in 1993 for Meridian’s Centennial. Maintained by the Meridian School District, the school is occasionally opened for school tours and special events (complete with desks and circa 1915 rules for teachers, such as ‘You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.’). During your visit, peek around the corner to spot the outhouse.

Mountain States Telephone (815 N. Main Street)

The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company kept this building as an office for nearly 30 years. Original 1928 price tag? Just under $5,000. When the company moved in 1955, the building then housed a real estate office, a popcorn store, a newspaper office, a computer repair business, and a watch repair business. Head across the street to get a better look at the Spanish colonial-style roof.

Rice Pharmacy (124 E. Idaho Avenue)

Once Sharp’s Harness Co., this 1912 building was best known as Rice Pharmacy. Look down the alleyway and you’ll spot the new brick front to the building. You can also see the entrance to the apartment where the pharmacist once stayed with his family.

Wechbaugh/Zamzows Elevator (611 E. Main Street)

It’s hard to miss this downtown staple. Built in 1909 and purchased in 1933 by August Zamzow, Zamzows feed is still produced at the mill today. Make sure to check out the large mural painted by Sector Seventeen, a Boise-based art collective.

Need a Tour Break?

Try out some locally made ice cream or chocolate from Truffles, etc. (126 E. Idaho Avenue), sip some wine at Deja Brew Laugh A Latte (112 E. Idaho Avenue), or tuck into brunch at The Original Sunrise Café (805 N. Main Street).

Calling it a wrap in the evening? Head to Heritage Hop Haus Meridian (729 N. Main Street-a tour stop located in the former Modern Woodmen of America lodge), Pauly’s Bar Room (130 E. Idaho Avenue), or any other downtown restaurant for a tasty dinner.

No matter where you start or end your journey, you’ll come away with some interesting facts to deepen your appreciation of downtown Meridian.

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