BLACKFOOT — Kimmie Pharis has developed a special relationship with the historic Milmor Hotel building in downtown Blackfoot.
She is the property manager for the Milmor, now owned by Blackfoot attorney Justin Oleson. Pharis and Ginette Manwaring have taken a special interest in working toward renovating the building — which encompasses 44,000 square feet, going from the Petals and Blooms floral shop to the north end at the intersection with W. Pacific St. and going south up to the Downtown Bakery building near W. Bridge St. — and so far the results of their efforts can be found at The Gathering Place event center at 91 N. Broadway.
It’s just a fraction of the work that’s in mind for revitalizing the Milmor — buillt between 1916-1918 by the Eccles family, starting out as the Hotel Eccles — as a whole.
Pharis, who’s been involved in a cleaning business before, is in charge of overseeing, organizing, and renting out The Gathering Place, which is available for children’s parties, weddings, wedding showers, luncheons, and more.
“We can pretty much set up for whatever,” Pharis said.
The way The Gathering Place was set up Tuesday harkened back to the glamorous, classy days of yesteryear, with antique furnishings, china, linens, place settings and decor (loaned by Ginette and her husband, Bingham County Commissioner Whitney Manwaring, from a collection that’s been built up by them through the years) throughout the place.
That feeling of yesteryear is something they want to highlight. They want to show the old character of the Milmor in all its glory.
“She’s my girl,” Pharis says of the Milmor, showing a bit of the personal care going into it. “I have a deep love for this building, and this has brought it out.”
The Gathering Place opened the first of January. It still has the original wood from when the hotel was built, which is part of the atmosphere going along with the furnishings there now.
A lot of time has been spent painting, cleaning, working on the updated full kitchen.
“There hasn’t been a lot needed to be done in this part of it because it’s been used in the more recent past, just the paint and some finishing touches,” Pharis said.
She said the pink Depression dishes found at The Gathering Place came from the governor’s mansion.
The facility has been used for parties and meetings already. Pharis said it costs $65 per hour to rent the facility.
On Monday, Pharis said, a large group hosted by the Idaho Potato Commission will be coming to Blackfoot and gathering at the facility, bringing with them 39 people from the Netherlands. The commission will tour Bingham County’s potato industries and farms along with a tour of the Idaho Potato Museum and enjoying lunch at The Gathering Place.
Family game nights are also planned there, to be held every Monday in July from 6-8 p.m., welcoming families and friends to sit at tables and play board games and cards — no electronic games, just looking for old-fashioned family fun to go with the atmosphere.
”A lot of people have fallen in love with this place,” Pharis said. “They love the feeling they get here.”
Events can be booked by calling Pharis at (208) 681-5940.