The architectural firm Wayland & Fennell designed Idaho Power's original headquarters at 1220 W. Idaho St. The building was built in 1932 in the Art Deco style.
This style swept the U.S. at the height of the Machine Age between the world wars. America was embracing speed and industrialization on a grand style. The Idaho Power building's vertical lines and geometrical, angular ornamentation reflects all of this.
"What better way to show that you are a modern enterprise than to promote and incorporate modern architecture into your headquarters?" said Dan Everhart of Preservation Idaho. "The building is representative of its time and the value that Idaho Power executives placed on being perceived as modern and bold."
Idaho Power added a 50-foot extension to the building's east side in 1960. This expansion has raised questions in the preservation community because it's seamless. It's impossible to tell where the old building ends and the new building begins - to some preservationists, that's a misrepresentation.
But there's no controversy about the company's more recent, painstaking restoration of the building's exterior paint, said Everhart. Rather than using abrasives that could harm the decorative surface, crews applied a kind of chemical peel, then repainted. The distinctive Art Deco chevrons - that may or may not be an homage to Reddy Kilowatt and his electric bolt limbs - appear as crisp as they must have in the '30s.
Idaho Power was created in 1916 when five companies across southern Idaho and Oregon combined assets, including water rights and hydroelectric facilities on the Snake River. The company built the majority of its hydroelectric facilities in the years after the Idaho Street headquarters was built, leading up to the completion of the three-dam Hells Canyon Complex in 1968.
Idaho Power constructed its new headquarters on the block south of the original building in 1990. The company uses the 1932 building for office space.
Anna Webb: 377-6431