Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Moscow Treasure: The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre

The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre
By: EmilieRae Smith

Photo courtesy of Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre website.
 The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre (KPAC) in downtown Moscow is home to both live theater, foreign films and Oscar winning movies. We are lucky to have such a theater that offers diverse entertainment experiences. Not only are films and theater a form of entertainment, but it also opens the door to different cultures and ideas.

In 1908, the Crystal Theater Opera House could be found in the spot where today's Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre now stands. The Opera House operated until Milburn Kenworthy purchased it in 1926 and opened the first public theater in Moscow on January 4th. The original brick structure from 1908 was expanded to enlarge the stage area. The theater housed vaudeville performances, silent films and eventually talking films in 1929.

Milburn Kenworthy and his family spent their whole lives in the entertainment business. They took silent films to a whole new level in the '20s with live animals walking in the aisles and burning incense to intensify moods.[1] Kenworthy later built the NuArt Theater down the street from the Kenworthy in 1930.

For many years, the Kenworthy was Moscow's premier movie theater. In the 1970s, however, the theater was converted into a cafe and eventually an apartment.[2]

It wasn't until the late 1980s when the building was turned back into a theater. Today the KPAC is a non-profit organization that is deeply involved in the Moscow community. People can rent out the space for performances, to show films or even to get married.

In the past, departments of the university have hosted movie nights and festivals, such as the French film festival and the Chinese movie night. The Kenworthy always has a film or play worth seeing.

When I first moved to Moscow, the Kenworthy was (and still is) my favorite place to go for good entertainment. The Kenworthy is a place that maintains its historic feel but offers contemporary and educational entertainment. The Kenworthy Theater website lists upcoming events and showings they have. If you're ever looking for something to do in the evenings, I recommend checking out the showings at the Kenworthy, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Photo from LCHS archives.
If you'd like to see original pictures of the Kenworthy in its early years, visit the Latah County historical society and ask to see their photo archives of the Kenworthy. 

[1]    Legendary Locals of Moscow. Latah County Historical Society.
[2]              Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre.

Latah County's Genealogy

Latah County's Genealogy
By: EmilieRae Smith

Latah County's history is rich with interesting and diverse families. In Latah County, we are lucky enough to have many extensive accounts related to the experiences of the people who shaped this reason. Not only does our historical society have many small collections related to family genealogies, but website's like “Genealogy Trails” offer birth, death, marriage and biography records of locals extending back to the founding of Latah County's towns.[1] People from the community are able to upload their own records to help expand the information available. The University of Idaho also has collections with extensive material for genealogists.  

Browsing the Latah County Historical Society's genealogy collections, you can learn a lot about some of the first settlers and long lasting contributions they had on the county.

I researched two different accounts, John and Meta Meyer and the Fredman/Hast family. John Meyer's parents, Claus and Katherine, came to the United States from Meyenburg, Germany in 1882. His parents then started a family and settled in Utah. John and Meta were enamored with Idaho's rich farmlands, which were similar to the German lowlands they grew up on. The school system that had been established and the metropolis that was Moscow also convinced them that this was the right place to call home. The Meyer's settled in the Genesee valley and established deep roots in the county. This account of the Meyer's was submitted by their granddaughter, Evelyn in 1989.[2] Eveleyn lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington but grew up hearing the pioneering stories of her grandparents.

John and Meta Meyer. Picture from the Latah County Historical Society. Pictures: Meyer.JC.02 and Meyer.Me.01. 

The Fredman/Hast family put down roots in Troy. They came to Idaho after emigrating from Alvsborg Lan, Sweden in the 1880s. The documents on the Fredman/Hast family available at the historical society show the emigration records upon entering the United States. Like most records, it accounts for all family members, their date of birth, marital status and occupations. This account has no added personal histories, just the facts. With these types of records, you don't get the insight that is offered through oral histories, like the Meyer's, but they still offer the exact information to trace a familial lineage back to its place of origin.[3]

Feldman/Hast family. Picture from Latah County Historical Society. Picture: SC-GENEALOGIES 
These two examples show the different kind of genealogical information available at the historical society. The information on the Meyers is a genealogical history told through a series of oral histories passed down through the generations. In the case of the Fredman/Hast family, it is a genealogical history told through formal immigration records. Both offer vast information on the story of a family's experiences.

The Latah County historical society has multiple archives showcasing the different types of genealogical history of local families. For budding historians or fellow history lovers, genealogy is an important factor of cultural history. By looking at genealogy, we can understand where certain traditions may arise from, what businesses are established, etc. All different areas of history are effected with familial lineages and studying genealogy gives us further insight into cultural and societal histories.

If you are interested in Latah County's genealogical history, visit the Latah County Historical Society, ask to see the Genealogy archives and enjoy delving into the past of local community members.

[1]    Genealogy Trails: Finding Ancestors. Sandra Davis.
[2]    Latah County Historical Society, Archives: SC-Genealogies File 1 to File 12. 
[3]    Latah County Historical Society, Archives: SC-Genealogies File 1 to File 12. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

W.G. Emery’s, “A History of Moscow, Idaho”
By EmilieRae Smith

In 1871, Asbury Lieuallen started a homestead a few miles outside of what is now downtown Moscow. Lieuallen was one of the first settlers in the community, but many more soon followed. By 1872, a postal carrier added Moscow to his route between Lewiston and points north. Lieuallen was encouraged by his neighbors to establish the first convenience store, which opened in 1875 on Main Street and Moscow was officially “on the road to prosperity.”

Moscow's Fifth Street in 1888. Picture courtesy of University of Idaho Library
Moscow continued to grow, opening more businesses and a schoolhouse. The construction of the University of Idaho began shortly after the opening of the schoolhouse. In 1892, the university opened its doors to its forty students and one professor. Four years later, four graduating students walked across a small stage and received their diplomas.

In 1896, W.G. Emery stood on the front steps of the Administration building and looked east over the growing town of Moscow. He noted “its substantial business bricks and neat brown and white cottages and elegant residences thickly clustered along the western slope of a low, rolling hill.”
Emery chronicled the town’s beginnings in his 27 page manuscript, “A History of Moscow, Idaho: With Sketches of Some of its Prominent Citizens, Firms and Corporations” in 1897. He noted the town’s first settlers, like Lieuallen, the first businesses and schools. His manuscript was originally published by the Moscow Mirror Newspaper.

Original Administration Building at University of Idaho, later destroyed by fire, picture taken in 1891.  Photo courtesy of University of Idaho Library

In addition to writing this manuscript, he also established a photography studio in Moscow and Pullman.

W.G. Emery was inspired, both literately and photographically, by Moscow’s aesthetic beauty, which is still apparent today. It’s the kind of beauty that has inspired artists and scholars for generations. Moscow is now home to three art galleries that the whole community gets involved in. The Prichard Art Gallery holds openings for new shows and the whole community is invited to come and enjoy. All the galleries in Moscow display and sell art from local artists.  Moscow truly is the “Heart of the Arts," a tradition that W.G. Emery perpetuated through his book and photographs.

If you’d like to know more about W.G. Emery or look at an original copy of his manuscript, please visit Latah County Historical Society and ask to see Small Collections EME-1.