Year Listed: 2014
Originally called Hoodooville, the town of Sprague began as a sheep camp in the 1870s. Officially incorporated in 1883, the town changed its name to Sprague, in honor of Civil War Union General John Wilson Sprague, an
executive with Northern Pacific Railroad which had a presence in town. In 1895, a fire virtually erased downtown, prompting the construction of modern fireproof masonry buildings following the blaze. Yet, even fireproof buildings need upkeep, and decades of deferred maintenance have taken a toll. On September 6, 2013, the easternmost building on the main block of downtown collapsed, forcing city officials to close down the street and condemn the entire block of adjacent structures. While the road has been re-opened with improvements made to the sidewalk, only one of the four businesses previously on the block have returned. The effect of the prolonged street closure has been felt throughout downtown: the grocery store and other operations have suffered a decline in business while the local bar & grill shut its doors entirely. Debris from the
collapsed building remains piled high at the site. City officials and business owners have not given up, but recognize the challenges associated
with structurally stabilizing the buildings and securing potential reinvestment.
The block of buildings that do remain constitute the historic core of
downtown Sprague and are a key element in the town’s hope for economic