TWIN FALLS • Nothing at Main Avenue and Hansen Street East is as it once was.
Even the intersection has been renamed — twice.
The Rogerson building, the Twin Falls landmark that once housed an elegant hotel and restaurant, has no semblance of its old self.
The city plans to demolish the building before the end of the year to make way for a plaza to be used for concerts, farmers markets and a splash park.
The Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency bought the building a year ago for $450,000 as part of a $17 million remodel of downtown Twin Falls.
Some folks would like to see the building saved and have complained to Nancy Taylor, chairwoman of the Twin Falls City Historic Preservation Commission.
“People say the Rogerson is ‘iconic’ or ‘historic,’” Taylor said. She understands that many yearn for nostalgia, but she disagrees with the notion of saving the building.
The building has been remodeled inside and out countless times in the past century, she said, and little of historic value remains.
URA Executive Director Melinda Anderson agrees with Taylor.
The building is a deteriorating shell, too far gone to salvage, Anderson said. Moldy insulation hangs from the ceilings where the roof has leaked for years. Asbestos permeates the place. The floors dip and wave like the sea.
The building, first known as the Nordling, was constructed by Robert Rogerson in 1908 on the north corner of Main Street and Ninth Street, at a cost of $70,000.
It was to “be the the most pretentious business structure in Twin Falls,” according to Twin Falls Times.
Soon after, city fathers decided to rename nearly every street in the 4-year-old town. It was confusing for Main Street to run parallel to the avenues and Shoshone Avenue to run parallel to the streets, they said.
By the time the Nordling building was occupied in December 1908, Main Street become Main Avenue and Ninth Street became Second Street East. In 2003, the numbered streets — but not the avenues — were again renamed.
The 100-by-125 Nordling had three floors, with the second and third floors “fitted up for a modern hotel, with a commodious office, public and private baths and all up-to-date conveniences,” said the Times. The 96 guest rooms were equipped with steam heat, hot and cold water, telephones and call bells.
The Nordling sisters of Chicago leased the corner store room and sold books, stationery, millinery and ladies’ furnishings. Bonham and Peters Co., Meyer and Co., and the hotel lobby and dining room occupied the rest of the ground floor. The dining room boasted fine silver, china and linens, and an orchestra for diners’ entertainment.
In the March 18, 1909, edition of the Times, real estate agents Chamberlain and Chisman announced that they had “purchased stock, fixtures and base of the Nordling Store” and planned to sell everything at a sacrifice so they could move into their new offices at “Rogerson corner.” The newspaper gave no reason for the Nordling store’s closing.
The hotel became the Rogerson European Hotel and stayed in the Rogerson family until 1933, when the Hoops family bought out the Rogersons. The family closed the hotel dining room and, a year later, Jenny Hoops Stewart opened the Rogerson Restaurant. The hotel was remodeled in 1938 and air conditioning was installed in every guest room.
Two men, Ben Mottern and Ted Smith, rented the restaurant from Stewart in 1947. All food was prepared from scratch and the restaurant received a national “excellent” rating from Duncan Hines.
The Rogerson was the last remaining luxury hotel in Twin Falls when a kitchen fire in 1965 leveled the third floor. The building then became the Rogerson Mall and the Hoops family built the Rogerson Motel Inn behind the Rogerson building on what would become Hansen Street East.
An urban renewal project in the early 1970s put the final nail in the historic coffin of the Rogerson when ornate brickwork of the old building was buried under modern façades.
The property sat vacant for five years in the mid-1990s. Glenn and Judy Schroeder purchased the property in 1999, with plans to remodel the mall and tear down the motel behind the mall. But financial problems plagued the project until the URA promised to purchase — for a parking lot — the ground under the motel and reimbursed the Shroeders for the cost of demolition.
When the Rogerson building is razed later this year, “it won’t become a parking lot,” Anderson promised.