In the early 1900’s, I.B Perrine conceived the creation of an irrigation system in the Magic Valley area. He promoted his dream in the Eastern business and financial cities and the American Water Works & Guarantee Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania eventually financed the project. The North Side Twin Falls Land and Water Company was created to promote settlement of the area in conjunction with the irrigation project and the “Carey Act” of 1895. Jacob B. VanWagener of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was Treasurer of the North Side Twin Falls Land and Water Company and other Magic Valley businesses. He claimed 160 acres of “Cary Act” property and developed Mountain View Ranch not only as an investment, (Van Wagener was non-resident) but also as a show place; a demonstration of what a farm in this newly irrigated area could become.
During 30 years of ownership by the VanWagener family the desert bloomed. Among the structures erected were the two story “main” house and a dairy barn, both built of slate, a well with a windmill, a cider press, storage sheds, a small tenant house, and a rock house located near the well. The lava rock barn is the earliest stone building in Jerome County built by to mason H.T. Pugh. It was completed in 1912 and is significant not only for its style, size, and workmanship, but also because of its association with the agricultural development of the North side. The farm’s location on the freight road between Shoshone and the Blue Lakes Ferry and along the Idaho Southern (later Oregon Short Line) Railroad made it highly visible. The nearby road is now U S. Highway 93. And the still highly visible barn is a landmark.
VanWagener’s agricultural efforts include 60 acres of apple trees and the ranch became famous for its Jonathan apples. They installed a cider press and cider was a mainstay of the business. Only a remnant of the orchard remains. VanWagener also imported registered Guernsey cattle (Our Pride of Mountain View, Judge Landis of Mountain View, and John of Mountain View) which were stabled in the rock barn. The dairy herd was supported by feed crops planted on the remaining acreage.
J.B. VanWagener passed away in 1928, preceded by his wife Elizabeth, and the property was inherited by their daughter Elizabeth. In 1939 long-time caretakers Bertha and A.J. Mye and S.A. Buchanan purchased the property and continued to farm. The property was farmed by several owners until 1990. During that time there were many Saturday night barn dances in the hay loft. Square dance groups also practiced and held dances there.
The barn became an entertainment venue in 1995 when the buildings and 6 acres of surrounding land were purchased by John and Marie Spanbauer. The Spanbauers made numerous improvements to the property including a new dance floor in the loft inlaid with their initials. They held many country western and square dances there. In 2005 they sold the ranch to David and Kathy Jacobsen who also made many improvements and rented the building and surrounding lawns for weddings and parties.
In 2014 the property was purchased by Nina and John Hollifield who have continued improvements including a restaurant, specialty shops, and the barn. The barn and the surrounding property is an event center that would surely please the VanWagener’s and the entire Magic Valley can be proud of the work and love spent in its restoration and preservation.
The historic Mountain View Barn provides a gathering place for meetings, community classes, weddings, parties, Quinceanera’s, concerts, farmer’s market, yard sales, family reunions, and a charming place to enjoy a sandwich and refreshments with friends in the barn lounge or deck.