Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Walker, James Flood , Architect (firm); James Flood Walker (architect)

Dates: constructed 1905

2 stories

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190 North Shilling Avenue
Blackfoot, ID 83221

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This grand residence had a projecting portico supported by squat, Tuscan columns reminiscent of Jeffersonian Classical architecture. The couple who built it, John Guthrie Brown and his wife May Johnston, lived here between 1905 and his death in 1924. It later became the home to the Bingham County Historical Museum.

Building History

John Guthrie Brown (born 03/11/1860 in Cleveland, TN-d. 03/02/1924 in Los Angeles, CA) married May Johnston Bible (born 11/26/1861 in Bradley County, TN-d. 07/21/1935 in Cleveland, TN) on 12/01/1904 in Cleveland, TN. The newlyweds moved into this new residence in Blackfoot, ID, the following year. John G. Brown had lived in Bingham County since at least 1887, when he served as Bingham County's Postmaster. He resided in "Ross Fork," ID, on 07/01/1887. The Ross Fork is a tributary of the Snake River, and it is possible that Brown initially lived several miles south of Blackfoot at this time. (See, Source Information U.S., Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service, 1863-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 05/23/2022.)

The Browns directed their architect John Flood Walker (1868-1924) to design their Idaho residence to remind them of the architecture of their home state, Tennessee. According to the website of the Bingham County Historical Society: "Bingham County Historical Society Museum is located in the John G. Brown mansion, a restored 1905 Southern-style mansion built from local lava rock. The mansion was once thought to be the social center of Blackfoot, Idaho. The 15 rooms, large white columns on the front porch, and sun room show a Southern style of architecture that reflects the architecture found in the Browns’ home state of Tennessee." (See Bingham County Historical, "Visit Us," accessed 05/23/2022.)

John G. Brown operated a retail furniture company in Blackfoot, ID, as per the 1910 and 1920 US Censuses. The Browns lived at this address with a Japanese servant who had the surname either "Ogato" or "Ogerato" (born c. 1880 in Japan) in 1910. (See, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Blackfoot Ward 1, Bingham, Idaho; Roll: T624_222; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0050; FHL microfilm: 1374235, accessed 05/23/2022.)

Ten years later, they lived at 190 North Shilling Avenue with a nephew, Morgan Johnston (born c. 1896 in TN) and Mr. Ogato. Morgan worked as a floorman in a public garage according to the census. (See, Source Citation Year: 1920; Census Place: Blackfoot Ward 1, Bingham, Idaho; Roll: T625_288; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 79, accessed 05/23/2022.)

By 1930, following her husband's death in 1924, May Brown had moved back to live nearby to family in Bradley County, TN. She owned a rural estate worth $12,000, while her relations, William J. Johnston, Jr., (born c. 1906 in TN) and Frank G. Johnston (born c. 1873 in TN), lived on adjacent land. WIlliam J. Johnston, Jr., a bookkeeper in a local bank, had real estate worth approximately $17,000 in 1930. (See, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: District 4, Bradley, Tennessee; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 2341969, accessed 05/23/2022.)

PCAD id: 24389