Weiser receives awards at Preservation Idaho event

Fr. Gerald J. Funke stands atop the steps of St. Agnes Catholic Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Philip A. Janquart

Steve Clausen, above, paints his house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Steve and wife, Cheri, were recently recognized for their preservation work by the Idaho Historic Preservation Council. Courtesy photo
Philip A. Janquart
Volunteers Steve and Cheri Clausen and Pastor Gerald Funke of St. Agnes Catholic Church were presented awards during the 46th annual Orchids and Onions Preservation Awards ceremony held Saturday, July 22 in Boise.
 Hosted by Preservation Idaho of the Idaho Historic Preservation Council, the event is designed to celebrate individuals and organizations that have made a positive contribution to historic preservation, as well as to bring awareness to those projects that have shown insensitivity to the state’s cultural history.
 Interestingly, “Orchids” are granted to outstanding examples of preservation projects or practices in several categories. Conversely, “Onions” are awarded to projects that jeopardize Idaho’s cultural resources.
 The Clausens received an award in the “Friend of Preservation” category, which recognizes individuals for their service in historic preservation. The category includes those who volunteer for preservation organizations, historical societies, or museums.
 “I mostly feel like we don’t deserve it,” said Cheri of the recognition. “There are a lot of people that work really hard and we kind of feel that everyone that does this kind of work deserves an award.”
 Over the years, Steve and Cheri, whose home in Weiser is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, have actively worked with the Weiser Architectural Preservation Committee and the Snake River Heritage Center. Some of the projects they have contributed to include the effort to save the Weiser Train Depot, which was slated for demolition in 1985, and assisted with a project to save photographs after the museum (Snake River Heritage Center) was damaged by fire. They also worked to preserve and ultimately acquire the Knights of Pythias Lodge Hall on East Idaho Street, among many other projects over the years.
 “It’s my hope that this Orchid Award from Preservation Idaho will remind us of the treasures we have here in our small town and help us realize that these buildings deserve responsible stewardship from us all,” Cheri said.
 Also on Saturday, Pastor Gerald J. Funke accepted the Heritage Stewardship award on behalf of St. Agnes Catholic Church, which was built in 1911. Located at 204 E. Liberty St. in Weiser, the church has undergone several improvements and renovations over the years, the most recent in 2022.
 The present renovation/restoration started as a simple plan to repaint the interior walls of the Church. However, those plans quickly “blossomed” into a larger project. 
 As the project grew, it became apparent that experts were needed, so Pamela Pavelek, of Pavelek Planning and Design in Boise, and Nick Guho, of Mark Guho Construction of Meridian, were called in. The project included repair of the many cracks in the 1911 plastering of the interior walls, refinishing of the dark wood beams and trim, new flooring, new lighting, new “Our Lady of Guadalupe” shrine in the east side transept (matching the shrine of Eucharist in the west transept), new benches, a new baptismal fount, and the originally planned repainting. All of the work was done with “appropriate time period” in mind to make the project a true restoration of the beauty of the Church’s interior, according to Fr. Funke.
 “The benches that were there were installed in the 1970s and had a ‘70s design,” he said. “They were light oak, but we decided to go more period appropriate with a darker, more traditional trim to match the turn of the century architecture of the building.”
 Fr. Funke said he was honored that Preservation Idaho chose St. Agnes for recognition.
 “It was very nice, and I think Weiser was well represented,” he said of Saturday’s ceremony.                


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
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