Possible new life for Wallace’s tiny house

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Photo by JOSH MCDONALD The Mallon House at 3 Bank St. in Wallace may be moving from its current home. But where?

WALLACE — The Mallon House at 3 Bank St. in Wallace has been making headlines for the better part of the last three years.

In August, after more than a year of deliberation, the Wallace City Council backed the play of the Wallace Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to allow the owners of the dilapidated home to demolish it.

And now, despite the long fight to demolish the structure being won, there is still a possibility of it staying in one piece.

After looking through various channels, Dave Copelan with the Wallace Historic Preservation Commission, as well as Planning and Zoning, is hoping to save the home and while adding to the historic aesthetic of the town.

Copelan’s plan is one right out of the old school Wallace playbook, as he — with the assistance of a home mover — is seeing if the edifice can be relocated.

In 1986, the city famously moved the Northern Pacific Depot building 200 feet to avoid it being caught in the construction of I-90.

Despite no concrete plans, Copelan was approved by the City Council on Jan. 9 to begin writing a Gem State Grant with the Idaho Department of Commerce. If approved, this grant would cover 80 percent of the cost of the project and leave the city liable for the other 20 percent.

Copelan believes those costs can be covered privately, meaning the city would shoulder none of the project costs itself.

The real question mark in the plan comes with figuring out where the home will be placed and if it can be moved.

Copelan’s original idea was centered around putting it with the rest of the mining exhibit at the Wallace Visitor’s Center, but that may prove difficult with spacial issues and the park’s extensive sprinkler system.

Wallace City Councilman Dean Cooper expressed his concerns with the location, primarily the fact that the home would require a foundation to be placed, and with how that would affect the system.

“We were told by the Mining Group that there was no more room and that our sprinkler system couldn’t take anymore cement poured over it,” Cooper said. “I’m not saying we can’t do it, but in the past the message that had been sent to the council was that there was no more room for big displays.”

Councilwoman Heather Branstetter sees the logic behind the idea, though, and thought putting the tiny miner’s house with the rest of the mining exhibit fit the motif of the Visitor’s Center.

Aside from the grant writing, Copelan was also charged with looking into several other factors that would affect the city.

The building’s structural stability, the ability of the bridge over Placer Creek to support a load as heavy as the home, the costs of maintenance and many other smaller items need to be considered before the Wallace City Council signs off on the idea.

The 3 Bank St. house has been owned by Rick and Indy Behrendt since they acquired the property a few years ago from former Wallace mayor and neighbor, Archie Hulsizer.

The Behrendts made waves in the small town after they submitted an application to Wallace Planning and Zoning in mid-2016 to demolish the home.

Citing the decrepit status of the more than 100-year-old structure and an inability to refurbish it, the couple wishes to knock it down and replace it with grass and plants.

The structure has a laundry list of issues including failing support beams, a non-existent foundation, extensive water damage, warping walls, mold, a hillside that is creeping into the structure, and a lack of basic amenities such as running water or electricity.

According to Copelan, the Behrendts support the idea of moving the home as opposed to demolition.

The deadline for the Gem State Grants is in late March. This means the house will stand for at least a few more months before it gets moved or demolished, the Shoshone News-Press will continue to follow this ongoing story.

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