RUPERT – The historic Rupert Square owes its existence to a business owner named Masterson.
In 1905 Masterson moved his business across the street where he placed it in the park facing north. At the time, shop owners built their business on skids, so they could easily be moved to a permanent place on the Square once the government sold lots.
“Other businessmen asked Masterson, ‘Please don’t do that. With water coming and trees to be planted, the park will be a great place for our children, wives and families to gather on holidays.’ They envisioned a park with grass and trees. If people squatted on it ahead of time, there would be no way to save that space as people would have the right to buy it. They all got on the same page and chose not to open businesses inside the Square. That was very insightful,” said Gary Schorzman, who plans to add such anecdotes to the upcoming book Rupert.
Working with Arcadia Publishing, Schorzman plans to gather text and pictures for the book depicting Rupert from 1903 to 1963. Arcadia expects to publish the book by June 2014. It originally approached DeMary Library Chairman Diane Nielson and City Councilwoman Tammy Jones about the book. They, in turn, referred Schorzman.
Schorzman met with the Rupert City Council Tuesday night to discuss the venture.
“When this project was first mentioned, your name became synonymous with it. We appreciate you taking it on,” Mayor Mike Brown said.
The council agreed Schorzman was perfect for the job as he currently serves as chairman of the Minidoka County Centennial, served as co-chair for the Rupert Centennial in 2006 and as president of the Minidoka Historical Society in 2000.
A 1960 Minico High School grad, Schorzman returned to Rupert 13 years ago and since then has extensively researched the community’s history. No stranger to publishing books, Schorzman has published books about his German Russian family who emigrated here at the first of the 20th century.
Schorzman plans to add various anecdotes to the book. He recently came across a 1930 newspaper account of the then-mayor complaining about cows turning the entire city into pasture.
“The city was becoming more than just a little village. It wasn’t just a little hay town. He wanted an ordinance keeping cows tied up,” he said.
Residents voted against the ordinance.
“He was outraged. Finally, he wrote in an editorial ‘well, the heck with it. If you want to live like this, go ahead,’” Schorzman said.
Arcadia publishes city histories throughout the country and has published one about Burley, Twin Falls and Pocatello. Those books often contain information about surrounding communities, but Schorzman plans to stick exclusively with Rupert.
“One of the things is that Rupert has a very interesting history with lots of firsts. It’s also easy to follow chronologically the people, architecture, changes in jobs, changes from candle light to electricity and irrigating to canals. It all happened in a very short time,” he said.
Schorzman noted that at one time Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) considered placing both the railroad tracks and the canal system through the town site.
“When you get north of Rupert, the canal switches and goes west over to K Street, and then it goes south and matches up with the canal down by Les Schwab. They specifically asked (BOR) to bypass the little town and go around it rather than through it. Imagine how the town would have looked with a railroad and a canal through it,” he said.
Schorzman plans to kick off the book with pictures of the railroad coming through Rupert prior to any building construction. Eventually the town started to develop with newspapers, general stores, homes, homestead offices and the Bureau of Reclamation office.
“We see a myriad of homestead homes from simple shacks to very decorative homes with little Victorian fringe on the tops of their roofs,” he said.
Schorzman plans to focus on the architectural aspect of the town. Prior to the 1960s, an enormous amount of attention to detail went into constructing buildings and especially so with businesses on the Square.
“They were not just brick buildings thrown up. They did care how the outside of their buildings looked. It will be fun to follow along in pictures chronologically and to see how the town grew architecturally. The first brick home was built in 1907 and happened to belong to the Howell family who owned the ferry just south of the Minidoka Dam,” he said.
Schorzman plans to start work on the Rupert book this fall just as Minidoka County Centennial Celebrations slow down. He says that compiling the book is like preparing for a test.
“The best thing is to know your stuff. I like being ready for a test. You can’t get any higher than knowing that you’re prepared,” he said.
Schorzman was quite flattered to be asked to help with the project.
“I was absolutely honored,” he said.
If you have any pictures of early Rupert that you’d like to share, call Schorzman at 436-9600 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.