Written by Deborah Mitchell
When the Milwaukee railroad wanted a freight route to the waterfront, they had to purchase the right-of-way across a significant amount of private property, some with homes already on them. One of the highest prices paid was for a large lot with a magnificent new home on it, built in 1908 for Coeur d’Alene’s second mayor, Boyd Hamilton, and his wife Alta Browne Hamilton.
The two-story, four-bedroom home with a library, bay windows and a large porch was the design of Spokane architect George Keith, who also designed nearby theaters, courthouses, and noteworthy homes, including the Levi and May Arkright Hutton House.
When Boyd Hamilton built this home, it was not at 627 Government Way on the corner of Foster facing east. Rather, it faced south with a Garden Avenue address and a splendid view of Blackwell Park. Two years later, it would be moved to make way for the railway. The house, built on 1.3 acres, was turned 90 degrees and
moved from the center of the south side of Block 21 of Forest Heights to the northeasterly corner.
According to the Coeur d’Alene Evening Press, January 25, 1910, the Milwaukee paid Mayor Hamilton in the neighborhood of $25,000 for this property.
Fred Tiffany, City Clerk and friend of Boyd Hamilton, bought the northeasterly portion of Block 21 from the Idaho and Western Railroad Company in 1910. The southerly portion would remain the right-of-way for the Milwaukee. The Hamilton’s house was moved to its new location facing Government Way.
This house has been the home to a list of remarkable people: Boyd Hamilton, mayor; Fred and Florence Tiffany’s nephew Gregory Pappy Boyington, born in Coeur d’Alene in 1912; William F. McNaughton, District Court Judge (1920-1930) and Idaho Supreme Court Judge (1930-1932); Agnes and Miles Robbins, proprietors of the Kozy Korner Café; Paul and Sadie Elder, who contributed to NICs music program and whose son Dean became an internationally renowned pianist; and from 1940 to 1975, William Hawkins, Kootenai County Prosecutor, and Agnes Hawkins, soloist, both civic leaders, raised their family in this house. From 1975 until recently, attorney Romer Brown and associates occupied the home. Recently, this house at 627 Government Way, a worthy candidate for preserving our history, has been the focus of neighbors and other citizen groups striving to prevent it from being torn down by the County for expansion plans.