Depression-era house built for bride, future children

Alert, alert! Anyone looking for a historic home in southeast Idaho should drop everything and check out this house that hit the market just last week. It’s a local favorite, and I wrote an article about it 11 years ago for a little home magazine that’s not around anymore. So I thought I’d share it with you, along with a bunch of listing photos. Enjoy!


Lots of houses exude a sense of romance, but few come with their own love story.

John Collette grew up in Idaho Falls but came from the wrong side of town. When he met Iris Bagley he wasn’t deterred by the fact that he was four years her senior or that she lived near the Idaho Falls LDS temple—then one of the most respected parts of the city.

But Iris’s parents were skeptical of Collette—after all, their daughter was only 16 when the two met. Her parents sent her to Arizona, hoping when Collette was out of sight, he’d be out of Iris’s mind, too.

Twelve years passed, and in the meantime Iris came back to Idaho Falls. And Collette found her.

In 1935 he built a two-story red brick house on 11th St. as Iris’s wedding gift. The home was extra large for its time, but he had plans for the space. “He wanted a big house, and he wanted to fill it with children,” the Collettes’ daughter Sonja Schanz said.

Schanz and her husband Don purchased the house from Iris in 1991, not just to keep the home in the family but because the place really is charming. Although “aethetically you don’t realize why it’s so appealing,” Sonja said a closer look reveals repeated arches throughout, from the keystone arch in the front-door frame to the soaring vaulted front-room ceiling— a space that could have been an upstairs playroom, but Iris opted to make a dramatic statement instead.

The Schanzes have put their own touches on the house, stripping carpet to reveal hardwood floors and removing 14 layers of wallpaper. “As we took them off it was like going through history,” Sonja said.

The wallpaper excavation revealed the original deep red wallpaper, which complemented the home’s original and unexpected Southwest style and reflected Yellowstone’s influence on Collette, who owned a West Yellowstone business.

If you buy this house, PLEASE do not tear out this tile!

Original doorknobs and bedroom lights remain in the home, but the kitchen renovation is something Iris regretted—and so do the Schanzes. The original workmanship featured cabinets reaching to the ceiling, but following the modernist trend of the 1970s Iris replaced them with fabricated ones, Sonja said. (Editor’s note: The kitchen has since been remodeled, as you can see in the photo below).

Sonja, who brought her family from California when she and her husband purchased the home, said after the move she used to bike or walk around the neighborhood, looking at other historic houses but falling in love all over again with the one she’s known all her life. “When I’d get back (home), I’d say, ‘I like this one best,’” she said. •


All photos sourced here.

2 thoughts

  1. It’s so fun to read the backstory on this house, my husband’s best friend is Nathan Schanz and he’s spent a lot of time there especially in high school. I’m sad to see it leave their family.


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