Beardmore restoration garners national honors

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Renovation of the historic Beardmore Building recently won honors for Seattle architect Brian Runberg, who is a Priest Lake native and great-grandson of the original owner of the building, Charles Beardmore. (Courtesy photo)

PRIEST RIVER — Seattle architect and Priest Lake native, Brian Runberg, AIA, received national honors recently for his restoration and adaptive reuse of the Beardmore Building in Priest River.

Runberg was presented the prestigious Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History at the AASLH annual meeting in Oklahoma City on Sept. 24. Now in its 65th year, the award was established to encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States.

The Beardmore Building is one of only a handful projects in the country that is both on the national Registry of Historic Places and LEED Gold certified by the US Green Building Council. Originally commissioned in 1922 by timber pioneer Charles Beardmore, the classic brick and terra cotta structure was once the centerpiece of the bustling north Idaho community. In later years it fell into disrepair under outside ownership so Beardmore’s great-grandson, Brian Runberg, purchased the building in 2006 and began the dramatic renovation.

More than 95 percent of the original structural material was recycled including fine woods, leaded glass windows, tile, and even bathroom and lighting fixtures. Today the restored Beardmore Building contains businesses never imagined in Charles Beardmore’s day. The ground floor houses a successful wine bar, a smoothie café and even a lush health spa fills the basement level. The second floor holds professional offices and serves as a community hub featuring recent events such as art walks, a non-profit fundraising auctions and state-wide meetings hosted by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.    

Commenting on the award, Otter said, “ I hosted the Priest River ‘Capital for a Day’ program in the Beardmore building. Preserving the historic legacy of our communities gives Idaho its special character and helps us build cultural tourism – and that means jobs. My thanks and congratulations go to Brian Runberg, whose efforts have brought national recognition to Priest River’s historic downtown.”

Janet L. Gallimore, executive director if the Idaho State Historical Society, said of the achievement, “Historic preservation fosters a sense of place that builds pride in community I am so very proud that the Beardmore is one of only 5 historic landmark buildings in the United States to achieve LEED Gold certification. The revitalized Beardmore building celebrates the accomplishments of the past while inspiring our future civic responsibility.”

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