Ketchum has a colorful history—one full of legends, tradition and even a few tall tales. A drive down Ketchum’s Main Street evokes images of a classic western mining town from an era long gone.
The picturesque street showcases mercantiles, cowboy bars, casinos and brick-walled grocers from
So how can business owners create change in a town so steeped in a Hemingway-like history? How do they use these relics to invoke a sense of modernity all while maintaining their history, their charm and their character?
It is a challenge recently faced by several creative local builders, designers and architects who, inspired by the fabled Ketchum history and motivated to create something a little different on their beloved Main Street, tackled renovations and rebuilds in downtown Ketchum.
CORNERSTONE BAR AND GRILL
Architect Michael Doty says remodels are “journeys by nature.” The renovation of Cornerstone Bar and Grill was no different. Owners Meg and Erik Vorm, along with builder Dan Young of Young Construction and Michael Doty Associates, started with a building that was essentially just a brick shell built in 1887. Along the way, the team encountered surprises like brick and mud walls, bathrooms in need of demolishing and an almost unusable basement space. But overall, they wanted to keep it contemporary with all of its old character. For the bar, the goal was to create a space that was friendly, comfortable and functional.
“Everything behind the bar was laid out perfectly, right down to the location of the taps, the fridges, the register, and the sink,” Doty explained. “It was important that the bartenders stay busy in an effective and efficient manner but maintain constant interaction with guests.” The bathrooms were another focus of the remodel, as the Vorms wanted them to compliment the entire experience of the building. Initially, the bathrooms were not even plumbed into their current location, an additional endeavor tackled by the team. The washrooms now feature modern art, metal wainscoting, unique fixtures and impressive lighting—and they definitely extend the Cornerstone experience and add to the overall “wow-factor.”
A bar and dining experience that could be found anywhere, in a big city or Ketchum, Idaho. Features and elements that work together to create a space worthy of its 2010 American Institute of Architects Honor Award.
You couldn’t miss the bar if you tried. The Chroma material with LED lighting is one of the restaurant’s best highlights. Check out its changing colors that seem to alter with the mood of whoever has bellied up to the bar’s light show.
In the Business
The showcase bar enlisted the work of the Salt Lake City-based company, 3form, which works primarily on special lighting projects like this. Idaho Falls engineers, ES-Squared, went above and beyond to create new ways to keep the old structure in tact.
Before: Courtesy Michael Doty / After: Tim Brown
For builder Joe Marx of Idaho Mountain Builders, being a part of a renovation on Main Street was something he had wanted to do since moving here 20 years ago. “It was nice to be a part of the updating and rebuilding of a town we love,” he said. Marx worked with owners, chefs and designers Taite Pearson and Sarah Lipton to transformthe della Mano space from an empty former jewelry store to a modern yet rustic restaurant. Built in the 1930s, the space has history and a quirky construction. Ultimately what 260 Main Street has become is a unique place where Pearson and Lipton can showcase their passion for food in an atmosphere that is warm and inviting but has a modern twist.
Cashing in on every remodeler’s dream, the plan was to install new flooring. But when the carpet was pulled, original oak floors were revealed. A little patching and refinishing was all it needed. New electrical was installed throughout, which was especially important as della Mano’s environmentally friendly kitchen runs on electric heat.
A small space with big impact. Modern touches are paired with rustic elements to invite guests to dine at the community tables or with friends in a space that brings old Ketchum into present day.
Chef Pearson designed the wine boxes mounted on the wall to be both art and functional wine storage. The lighting for the jewelry store stayed the same, as the dining tables lined up where jewelry cases once stood. When concrete blocks were cut from the kitchen floor to plumb for dishwashing, the blocks were used as a backdoor pathway. The kitchen is fully mobile, with everything mounted on casters, making it easy to clean.
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Local electrical contractor, Tim’s Electric, helped make the electric heat kitchen possible. Big Wood Plumbing in Bellevue updated the bathrooms and installed an all-new dishwashing system. Tom Shulz installed the back wall of the dining room, a feature piece of gray and orange. The kitchen’s sustainable flooring is a 1950’s product called marmoleum.
Before: Courtesy Christopher & Co. / After: Tim Brown
Whiskey Jacques is a place of good times and old friends. When a 2008 fire razed the entire bar and night club, Preston Zeigler of Sawtooth Construction and architect Buffalo Rixon of Ruscitto|Latham|Blanton Architectura were faced with the challenge of restructuring the beloved Whiskey’s. They had a singular goal. “We wanted to try and keep it comfortable and recognized. We didn’t want it to be a new place, just better,” said Rixon of the expedited seven-month project.
Hands-on owner Karen Martin wanted to develop an upstairs bar, which ultimately included two outdoor patios and a multi-purpose room. The floor plan stayed the same as the former Whiskey’s, but better facilities for the staff and bands were added, as well as upgraded bathrooms.
A new visual exterior compatible with a historical Main Street Ketchum theme and an interior that has the same ol’ Whiskey’s feel. As Rixon explained, “The team maintained the building’s heritage while moving it into the future.”
Zeigler said the building’s longevity was important. “This part was tough because so much of the interior is wood and it gets so much abuse,” he said. So an abuse-resistant, Pergo-protected laminate wood flooring was used, a product that’s cheaper to replace every couple of years than it is to refinish the wood floor yearly.
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Sean Tajkowski of Ketchum’s Technical Planning and Engineering did all the sound to beef up the capabilities for music and entertainment at the bar. Almost all of the subcontractors who worked on the project were local, and Zeigler was excited to showcase local craftsmanship and show how it could all be done without leaving the Valley.
Before: Courtesy Ruscitto|Latham|Blanton Architectura / After: Five B Studios
Built in the early 1980s, the Roxy’s Market building located on the corner of Main and River Streets in Ketchum once housed Williams Market. After sitting empty for almost 15 years, the building was in desperate need of a makeover. This is where Michael Doty of Michael Doty Associates and Dan Young of Young Construction came into the picture once more. Owners Roxanne and Michael Lawler wanted to make it look fresh, new, and different—all in a cost-efficient way that would highlight their organic and specialty products. Young said of the project, “Essentially, everything was reconditioned, refinished, and refurbished.” The layout of Roxy’s Market stayed entirely unchanged, and not much structural work was done, but the team came through creating a familiar, yet brand new market.
Originally the market had two office spaces, one above the entry way and the other upstairs in the back. The owners agreed that they needed only one, thus the front office was removed and large windows were put in its place. This opened up the entire building, creating more natural light and amazing views of the slopes of Baldy from the cash registers. Bathrooms near the entry were also added, as well as new mechanical systems and plumbing.
A new roof, a new exterior, new paint and siding, paired with stripped concrete flooring gave this old market a brand new feel. An “industrial chic” look that makes you forget what it used to look like.
Architect Michael Doty essentially became the designer on the project as he worked to use industrial components that could become refined interior and exterior materials. One example was his use of bonderized steel, a corrugated metal usually used for roofing, as siding for the building. “I wanted to use materials that could engage people and surprise them. Maybe even give them something to smile about,” he said.
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The bonderized steel is simply an off-the-shelf corrugated metal that is meant to be more than just wallpaper and a coat of paint. The flooring is the original concrete, ground down to become the cool gray that you see today.
Before: Courtesy Michael Doty / After: Tim Brown