Roads Less Traveled Through the Coeur d'Alenes

Historical Driving Tour: Rathdrum

Roads Less Traveled Through the Coeur d'AlenesOne of our favorite weekend activities is to take a day trip and just go exploring. Sometime last year we picked up this intriguing book. Roads Less Traveled Through the Coeur d’Alenes covers three counties in our area and includes lots of historical tidbits that we might not otherwise know about. We’ve just barely started exploring with this book in hand, but I hope to make this an ongoing blog series.

Rathdrum, Idaho

We actually live in historic downtown Rathdrum and there’s a section in the book dedicated to our little town. That seems like the perfect place to start, don’t you think?

Rathdrum was formerly the county seat of Kootenai County, from 1881 to 1908. Also, prior to 1881, it was called Westwood rather than Rathdrum. There was a fire in 1924 so many of the existing buildings were built at that time.

As you come into downtown Rathdrum, you will find this speed limit sign posted:

The Cassady Funeral Home

Currently vacant and apparently gutted, this building was a funeral home from 1924 until the early 1960s. I’m not sure if it’s in the process of being restored or renovated, but that’s entirely possible.

Interstate Utilities Telephone Building

This is the view of Main Street if you are standing in front of the old funeral home. The little cream-colored building with the mural on the side was originally the Interstate Utilities Telephone building and then a fire station after that. It is currently the Chamber of Commerce office.

The Hart Block

On down the street from the Chamber building is the Westwood Brewery. This section of the block was built by Warren A. Hart in 1892 but it burned in 1924. Mr. Hart rebuilt it using the original brick walls. It must have been a store at that time. Now it’s a restaurant with really great hamburgers!

Poleson Building

Across the street is the Rathdrum Law office. I can’t quite make out how, but I guess this building was divided into two bays at one time. W.A. Poleson had a barbershop in one, and the Pioneer Market was in the other. I’m not sure what the Pioneer Market was. Maybe a grocery store?

Berges Block

Back across the street, this section was (and still is) divided into 3 shops. They were originally occupied by a confectionery (a candy store?), a hardware store, and the post office. The current occupants are an architect, a styling salon, and a tattoo parlor.

Wenz Drug Store

Also built after the fire of 1924, Nadine’s Mexican Kitchen was originally a drug store. Another excellent place to eat in our neighborhood. They have a smoker out back and make really good smoked brisket!

Crenshaw Block

The Bell Tower Funeral Home is across the street from Nadine’s. That building was a bakery in the early years.

The Rathdrum Iron Works

I have no idea what this building currently is. It’s across the street from where we live but I’ve never noticed any activity around it. It was built between 1908 and 1912 so I guess it escaped the fire.

Rathdrum High School

The old high school is another block on down Main Street. It’s currently Mountain View High School which is an alternative high school. The main high school for the area is now called Lake City High School and it is out on the highway.

Kootenai County Jail

Second Street runs parallel to Main Street. It starts with the Old Jail Museum. The near building is a recently built annex to the Old Jail which is used for community events. The dark red building in the middle is the museum. It was built in 1892 and was the county jail until 1908.

The purple building is the Masonic Lodge. It was built between 1910 and 1912.

Harlan Fritzsche’s House

Just across the street from the Lodge is this bungalow-style home which was built around 1920. I guess the owner’s name must have been Harlan Fritzsche. The man who currently lives there is friendly, though I don’t know what his name is. I’ve seen him sitting on the porch when I’ve gone for a walk around the block. He nods and greets me.

Don’t you love small towns?

Wenz House

Across the other street, facing the Fritzsche house, is the house where the druggist lived. I showed you the drug store building on the other block. It’s behind this house.

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church

St. Stanislaus is my favorite building in town. It was built in 1900. It is still an active church and it has a bell! I love listening for the church bell at 8:50 every Sunday morning. Though I’m not Catholic I have often been tempted to attend a service there just so I could see the inside of the building. Maybe I will one of these days.

Mark and Flora Belle Musgrove House

Next door to St. Stanislaus is my favorite house in town. It was built before 1892. I love that second-story sleeping porch!

Warren Hart House

The next house on the block was built in 1892 and then moved to this location sometime between 1901 and 1912. I can’t even begin to conceive of how they might have moved such a house!

Rathdrum United Methodist Church

Across the railroad track and highway from the downtown area is the old Methodist church. I’m pretty sure it is not currently used as a church. It looks like someone might live there. It looks like it was a lovely building in its day. I’d love to see it restored.

Idaho & Washington Northern Railroad Depot

The old depot is also currently a private home. It was built in 1908. It is not near the current railroad tracks (which are the BNSF line). Apparently there used to be another railroad that ran behind this building.


This concludes our historical tour of Rathdrum.

Which building do you like best?



  • Esther

    I can’t decide which building is my favorite. But I do want to read the book if you ever write one about this town and the people in it! Love you!

  • Marshall

    As of today, Harlan Fritzsche still lives in the house on mill street. His son Brian bought the house across the street.

  • Lisa Fritzsche

    Karla, I found your page when googling my uncle Harlan Fritzsche. He passed away in April and that was indeed his house. His widow lives there still. He had been a well known policeman in Rathdrum and Post Falls, even chief of police. I am sure that was him you saw on the porch as was his habit.

  • Christopher (Cox) Crowder

    I attended the Methodist church in the early 1990’s. It had a thriving youth group and was quite active. I don’t recall her name, but one of the congregants lived in the old train depot. She would walk over for Sunday service. I would split her firewood in the summer so she had plenty in the winter.

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