History of the Natatorium

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
In 1901 the Natatorium, a hot spring plunge located off East Warm Springs Avenue, was chosen to host Idaho's very first Inaugural Governor's Ball for Governor Frank Hunt.

NatatoriumIn 1901 the Natatorium, a hot spring plunge located off East Warm Springs Avenue, was chosen to host Idaho's very first Inaugural Governor's Ball for Governor Frank Hunt.

The Natatorium was built by the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company, headed by C.W. Moore and Hosea Eastman, who drilled for and then piped geothermal water to their businesses, homes, and public spaces. The pool at 'the Nat' was 120 feet by 62 feet and was fed by the hot springs in the Boise foothills. Besides a nice soak, patrons could also have a steam bath, and a massage, or they could entertain themselves in the cafe on the second floor, there was also a ballroom for formal affairs, and an "upscale" bar. In 1914 Hiram T. French named the Natatorium 'The Taj Mahal of the West' because of its Moorish architectural style, and so it was the perfect location to display the grandeur of Idaho at the turn of the century.[1]

A large dance floor was constructed over part of the pool, and the decorations left nothing to be desired. The ladies of the city contributed the food, and the evening was highlighted by a brilliant display of electric power that provided incandescent light.

By all accounts the first Governor's Ball was a grand affair. The occasion was hosted at the Natatorium until 1913 (years before the Natatorium fell into disrepair and was closed and razed in the 1930s.)[2]

Photo courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society

Sources:

[1] Revue Guru, South Fork Companion: Idaho History, History, and Other Musings and Rants.
[2] "Idaho Governor's Inaugurals" Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series no. 719



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