Sunday, December 10, 2023

Still time to share Chapin Building memories

Staff Writer | June 2, 2023 1:07 AM

From a pharmacy and a drugstore to a laundromat, a police station and, now, the home of the Post Falls Museum and Historical Society, the Chapin Building flows River City history.

The historical society is asking you, the citezenry, to share any and all stories you or someone you know may know for the Chapin building's centennial anniversary celebration in July.

"So many people worked here, shopped here, picked up their prescriptions or even did their laundry over the years," Post Falls Historical Society secretary Joe Butler said Thursday. "We look forward to hearing all of these."

The society announced last fall it was seeking memories, however large or small, to document and celebrate this piece of Post Falls' past. Since then, Kim Brown has conducted interviews and gathered historical threads to tie into the building's history.

"Their memories are important, because it verifies it in a way that’s personal," said Brown, a past president and charter member of the historical society.

"These people have very distinct memories," she said. "That’s representing a piece of history, and we're keeping those memories somewhat alive."

The old brick Chapin Building at 101 E. Fourth Ave. was built by Walter Chapin in 1922 and opened as Chapin's Drugs in 1923. A Dr. McCauley used the space in the back as an office in the '30s and '40s. Chapin ran the pharmacy for several years. Images of two of his children can be found along the Post Falls History Walk near the museum.

The building was then leased out as grocery store, called Berard’s Garden Spot.

Post Falls High School students painted the interior and used the building for dances in the late 1950s. They called it the "Little Hut." Then it became a laundromat owned by the Baldwin family and later the O’Neill family.

The city of Post Falls bought the building in 1979. It housed the Post Falls Police Department from '79 to 2003, then was home to the Post Falls Parks and Recreation Department from 2003 to 2008.

Late 2008 is when the Post Falls Historical Society began remodeling the interior, leading to the creation of the town’s first museum.

Brown said she recently spoke with parks and rec employees who remember the tight-knit camaraderie they shared in the Chapin Building before moving to a larger space.

"Once they left that building and they got into their brand-new facilities, they lost the closeness that you would have in a small facility," Brown said. "When somebody can come in after 30, 40 years and remember the layout and who was sitting in what desk in that small enclosure, that means they were pretty dang close.

"When you're talking about human relations, when people are feeling or remembering or valuing their experience in that building, based on their human relations with fellow employees, that’s the kind of thing we're talking about — community."

The community is invited to celebrate the centennial milestone during the Taste and Toast the Building event from 4 to 6 p.m. July 6. Guests will enjoy a wine toast by Rosemary Manor Wine, which has been in Post Falls for several generations. They will also enjoy sharing and listening to stories about the Chapin Building. Attendees are encouraged to snap photos with their families and children at the museum to preserve for posterity.

"Even if you don't have a direct connection to the building, it could be an enjoyable experience to come and attend the 100-year party," Butler said. "The society also plans to document the event for historical purposes. We like to remind our community that history isn't just stuff from the past, but how what's happening now is memorialized and preserved for future generations to enjoy."

The stories collected about the Chapin Building will serve as data that will be included with a National Register of Historic Places nomination.

For details or to contribute memories and stories, visit or call 208-262-9642.

"We would love to have people submit photos and oral histories," Brown said. "If they’re willing to share them, we’re willing to preserve them."


Courtesy photo

This photo of Post Falls Police officers when taken when the Chapin Building housed the Post Falls Police Department from 1979 to 2003. Time is still left to submit stories and memories of the old building before the centennial celebration in July.

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