POCATELLO — It may not be as well known as other buildings in town, but Bannock County Veterans Memorial Building has been part of Pocatello’s history for almost 100 years. And now it has a museum.
Next to the Portneuf River Concrete Channel, the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Building (formerly the Bannock County Servicemen Building), was started in 1924, but with funding issues and supply issues with the war, it wasn’t completed until 1926. It was designed by Frank Paradice, who was also key in redesigning Pocatello High School and designing the Franklin Building, Valentine Building, Bannock Hotel, Brady Chapel, Central Building, Idaho State University Administration Building, Fargo Building, Greyhound Bus Depot, Gravely Hall, Masonic Temple, Bannock Memorial Hospital and many other historical Pocatello buildings.
The Veterans Building was considered one of the biggest at the time. The green guns on the front lawn were transported to Pocatello and have German origins. The middle gun does have some unknown history, but the consensus is it was transported by Garret Trucking across town from the Naval Ordnance Plant, which crafted these large guns during the war.
Miguel Dominic took over the task of historian a little over a year ago. The previous membership had started gathering military memorabilia from veterans in the area. Those who have moved away from the area have also sent many things to be displayed. Dominic discovered a closet full of these items. One box had never been opened and was delivered in 2006.
“I opened up the box and saw a Ka-Bar and a hand-sewn flag that had been displayed on D-Day. The name on the box was Don Hurley. I called the number that had been sent along,” Dominic said.
Hurley, who is now deceased, decided he didn’t want his military belongings to be passed around to his large family, and he wanted those items to be donated to Pocatello’s Veterans Museum.
Dominic emptied the closet, and the Bannock County Veterans Museum was born. One item the museum recently received was a flexible disc record from December 1941, which has President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Declaration of War speech. The museum also has military dress from different wars, dog tags, a quilt made from 8,000 military ribbons, scale models, a marine bell, photos of soldiers, field bags and much more.
The museum can be seen during business hours Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum is also open on Saturday and Sunday from about 11 a.m. to 2:30 or 3 p.m.
The building has a variety of uses, and not all are related to veterans. The American Legion holds a Steak Night on the second Friday of every month, with proceeds going toward the American Legion programs and plans. The AmVets and Bannock County Search and Rescue hold a pancake breakfast on the first Saturday of every month. Proceeds and donations go toward AmVets and the Bannock County Search and Rescue.
There is also a coffee lounge where anyone can come Monday through Thursday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. to pass the time and meet with local veterans. The building can also be rented out for numerous occasions, including weddings, work parties, meetings, and more.
Even though this building may not be as well known as other buildings in Pocatello, it holds a special place in many veterans and the public’s hearts. Many children see it as Hogwarts. (They have held a Harry Potter event, turning the entire building into Hogwarts Castle.) Others see it as a place where they wed, a safe place where they can find other veterans who can help them, and to others it is a beautiful building that is a strong part of Pocatello’s history.