Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Roseberry General Store

Do you travel by guidebook? I usually have a few things highlighted whenever we travel, but usually after battling through flocks of fellow tourists while taking in one or two of the Main Attractions, the Wonderfully Patient Spouse and I become hopelessly distracted and wander off into a whole new itinerary.

I call it the Bright, Shiny Object Syndrome.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is, after all, how we discovered St.-Severin church (Paris) with its rock-star gargoyles and the added attraction of being the site of the first ever gall stone surgery (1474). . . The Torture Museum (Amsterdam). . . and the 12th century Byzantine mosaics of Torcello Cathedral (Venice. . . we completely blew off the island of Murano. sorry) to name just a few of our more interesting detours.

So needless to say, I was more than happy to hop on board last weekend when my friend DZ waved a clipping out of Sunset Magazine in front of me and asked, "Do you mind if we stop by the Roseberry General Store before heading into McCall?"

The store itself, built in 1905, was quite charming and appears much as it did in the early 1900s, inventory included.

With a push of a button, a mechanical shopkeeper, his wild, unblinking blue-eyed stare notwithstanding, shares a most informative history of the establishment with a few tidbits about the Roseberry Townsite thrown in to boot. Back in the day, Roseberry was a Going Concern -- the largest town in Idaho's Valley County. It had flour and saw mills, a five-sided hotel, restaurant, brass band (complete with an elevated bandshell), several schools and its very own baseball team.

But when the railroad came through in 1914, it laid down tracks about 1 1/2 miles west of Roseberry (the bastards!) and that was the beginning of the end for this robust little burg. The store, however, managed to stay open until 1939.

But it's just not about the general store in Roseberry. Three rustic cabins across the road from the store beckoned.

A small sign told us they were originally the homes of three Finnish bachelors who landed in Idaho after the Spanish-American War (not sure whose side they were on) looking for wives.

The front door to the largest home was secured with a simple rusted bent nail -- an invitation to open said door if there ever was one. To our delight, we discovered the room to be completely outfitted as if our Finnish bachelor had just stepped out for a smoke or his morning constitutional.

Someone in Roseberry. we brilliantly deduced, was obviously into historic preservation. Sure enough. A gentleman name Frank Eld, along with the Long Valley Historic Preservation Society (whose membership, I think, largely consists of Frank), have moved some 20 historic buildings to the Roseberry Townsite since 1969.

School house

The Methodist-Episcopal Church and grange
In truly what can be called a labor of love, Roseberry is being restored one building at a time with a delightful, whimsical attention to detail that I haven't seen before.

Thank you, Frank and Roseberry, for a magical step back in time.

1 comment:

  1. The Long Valley Preservation Society appreciates your interest! While Frank Eld is the self-appointed Mayor of Roseberry, and frequently interacts with visitors, we have an active board of directors, hundreds of members, and over 100 volunteers who work to make Historic Roseberry a going concern with an annual budget of over $40,000. Use this link to see the work of the organization.