Lewiston, Idaho, once an important port for miners traveling in search of gold, is now a town of about 30,000 people. Few of the people who live in the Lewis-Clark Valley speak of its over one hundred year history. However, there are still parts of the community where one can explore and see the age of the town. Downtown Lewiston is one of a few areas where people can go exploring. They wander the streets, admiring the buildings that stand proudly above them. One building in particular ties a unique history into the downtown area. Morgan’s Alley stands at the corner of Main Street and D Street, overlooking the cars and people passing by. On the outside, it looks like an ordinary, older building. On the inside, it holds secrets of the past and possibly a ghost.
Lewiston’s downtown buildings were created in direct reaction to two things; in 1899 the Snake River Bridge was built and Lewiston became a port. The city of Lewiston was an important port for miners who were traveling to find work. Where there is gold mining, there are men, and where there are men there are women. At the turn of the century, prostitution was not uncommon nor was it illegal. Many of the buildings in downtown Lewiston were bordellos for men to ‘unwind’. Some of the buildings that make up Morgan’s Alley were those bordellos. A teller’s box still sits at one of the entrances to the building. It is from the 1900s and if men wanted to go and see the ‘upstairs girls’ they would have to pay there. There was always a guard on duty so there would be no customers that got sex for free. After paying, they would travel up the grand staircase, that is still there today, and go have sex (Bush). Prostitution stayed legal in Lewiston until the 1940s. Not all of the buildings within Morgan’s Alley were used for prostitution. Many were used later for businesses.
The building that is Morgan’s Alley now was not standing in the early 20th century. The building that is Morgan’s Alley today is made up of four different buildings, three of which were built in the early 1900s in direct reaction to the building of the Snake River Bridge. The Vollmer and Scott Building was built around the turn of the 20th century. It was built by, Wallace Scott and John P. Vollmer, Idaho’s first millionaire. (“Historic Downtown Lewiston Walking Tour). That building served as a telegraph office and barber shop. The Goldstone Building was a furniture store and saloon also built around the turn of the century (Historic Downtown Lewiston Walking Tour). The third building was created to be a grocery store that held residential apartments above it (Ross). The fourth building was not built until much later.
(The) building was actually 4th Street. A fraternal organization convinced the city to
vacate 4th Street where they then used the buildings on either side as exterior walls,
built walls on Main Street and D Street and put a roof on it (Ross).
Throughout the nineteen hundreds these...