When actress Judy Garland sang that she “was born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho” in 1954s “A Star is Born”, one wonders if she knew that the Princess Theater in Pocatello actually once existed. She certainly couldn’t know that half a century later, the building’s renovation would garner praise for adaptive reuse from derelict hotel to residential use.
Originally constructed as a two-story structure in 1905, the building was redesigned in 1913-14 to its present four-story configuration. A later 1929 remodel of the first floor gave the building its present appearance. As with many historic structures, time took its toll, and the building teetered on the brink of demolition by neglect.
When finally rescued by CMW LLC and The Housing Company, the Whitman was rehabilitated strictly adhering to the Secretary of Interior?s Standards. The integral light well was retained while the corridors and public spaces were rehabilitated to allow for subdivision into one bedroom and studio apartments. The ground floor lobby and art deco caf? were also retained. Judy Garland’s “birthplace” is once again a vibrant, contributing feature of downtown Pocatello.
Preservation Idaho is pleased to award the project with a 2010 Orchid Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.