Owned by Bannock County’s first sheriff, the Sullivan-Kinney House is one of a dozen Second Empire structures remaining in Idaho.
After Garrett Sullivan arrived in Pocatello in the early-1890s in search of gold, he eventually decided to make the bustling town his home. He began building a house in 1893, but it appears Sullivan never occupied it, as he began renting out the property the same year to W. H. Remington, who operated a local brokerage company. Some have speculated Sullivan’s wife had a role in the building’s construction, making it sentimentally associated with her such that her unexpected death just weeks before completion kept Sullivan from enjoying the house.
In 1894, Sullivan successfully ran for Bannock County sheriff on the Republican ticket, serving one term until 1898. A few years later, in 1904, Sullivan sold his home to Edward C. Kinney, a local rancher. Sullivan subsequently traveled across the Rocky Mountains as a miner, though he occasionally visited Pocatello between trips.
Despite its melancholy beginnings, the Sullivan-Kinney House is an appealing example of Second Empire architecture. It is surprising that Sullivan constructed his intended home in this style because Second Empire’s influence declined in the late-1880s while other architectural styles received more attention by 1893 and 1894, especially in the western United States. The outside is curiously asymmetrical, but the entry tower and bay window balance each other, preventing the exterior from appearing unproportioned. Interestingly, the walls are constructed from locally sourced sandstone, giving it a slightly bulky and rugged appearance. Its rougher edge, however, is softened by the ornamental columns used within the entryway and the elegant mansard roof cut in a pattern having the appearance of fish-scales. Two triangular-topped windows placed in the roof face the street, and three others are present on each side. Mansard roofs, besides standing out visually, also make practical sense, as they allow more living space upstairs, unlike sloping roofs, which form a triangle, providing minimal room. The Sullivan-Kinney House is much smaller than other Second Empire homes, at only 1,283 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Its small size is cleverly masked by the steep mansard roof, elongating the overall structure.
The Kinney family lived in the house until the 1940s and did not construct add-ons to the property. However, in the 1970s, the contemporary owner removed part of the ornamented cast-iron fencing topping the roof, called cresting, intending to re-cast the damaged areas. Such a project never materialized, it seems, as current photographs contain no cresting whatsoever. Replacement of some sandstone possibly occurred, as the National Register listing mentions their deterioration and erosion. The most noticeable adjustment is perhaps the alteration of the roof shingles, which changed from the fish-scale pattern to square for several years before reverting to their original design in the 2010s. The Sullivan-Kinney House is one of twelve Second Empire homes extant in Idaho and the only one constructed with stone, making it significant in Idaho’s architectural history. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 by its owner and is not open to the public for visitors.