Our History

We all start somewhere. Here is our origin story.

Vision & Mission

Preserving Idaho’s cultural heritage to be celebrated and enjoyed! 

The Centennial Commission and the 50th Idaho legislature created the Trust to help preserve Idaho’s heritage for the next 100 years in advance of our bicentennial. Hiding in this seemingly simple statement of purpose are a few aspects that require further exploration and lead us to our organizational vision and mission.

First, what is heritage and why is it important? Heritage encompasses all aspects of our past that inform and influence our present and on which we build our collective identity. Heritage is not only the physical places and artifacts that remind us of our history, but the stories these things represent and the sense of place that would be indelibly changed without them. In practical terms, think of your favorite town’s main street and why it stands out to you. Is it the marquee from an old theatre, the unique architecture of the historic buildings, or the fond memories you have associated with it? Now, think about how your relationship with this place would change if these characteristics were to disappear. It is our vision, therefore, to maintain this unique sense of place that helps form our collective identity, which stretch from the small towns referenced above to historic downtowns in our bigger cities to frontier cabins and historic mining towns and everywhere in between.  

Second, whose heritage are we preserving, and what actions do we take to fulfill our mission? At our heart, we are a supportive grass-roots organization, meaning we provide funding and technical expertise to help others preserve what is important to them.  In this way, our mission is to serve all Idahoans to preserve and maintain our collective culture and history. We have shown our commitment to this mission by helping with projects in every county, and more than half of our grants have been awarded to communities of fewer than 5,000 people. We strive to provide the resources and practical knowledge necessary so anyone who believes in our mission can contribute to ensuring what we love about Idaho continues to exist for at least the next 100 years.  

“I dare say the Trust will make a consequential mark on the history of the next century.”

- Governor Robert Smylie


Our Founding

A lasting legacy of Idaho’s Centennial

In April of 1990, Idaho Heritage Trust was created as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to provide financial support and technical expertise to preserve the culture and history of Idaho. The Trust was initially proposed by the Lasting Legacy Committee of the Idaho Centennial Commission, with its Articles of Incorporation written by Centennial Commission Chair H.F. Magnuson, Lasting Legacy Chair Glenn Janss, and Vice Chair Martin Peterson. Idaho’s 100th Legislature passed a bill providing official recognition of IHT as ‘a private organization uniquely qualified to assist in carrying out the state’s policy of encouraging historic preservation.’ Governor Cecil Andrews signed House Bill 514 into law, and thus IHT was born. 

Our Funding

A gift that continues to give!

Upon its creation, the Centennial Commission was appropriated a total of $6,000 to host Idaho’s 100th birthday celebration. The members decided to set up a separate nonprofit organization, The Idaho Centennial Foundation, to assist in raising funds to help plan and promote the Centennial. Part of the Foundation’s remit was to manufacture and sell Centennial related items, chief of which was the creation of the iconic Celebrate Idaho Centennial Red, White, and Blue license plate. 

As Idaho’s 100th year came to a close, the Centennial Foundation assigned the trademark to the Idaho Heritage Trust, as well as donating a portion of their remaining funds directly to IHTIn 1992 the Scenic Idaho plate became the standard throughout the state. Thanks to the continued support of the Idaho Legislaturewe still derive the bulk of our funding from a $.50 per plate royalty for the use of our registered trademark 

Significant Projects

We are tremendously proud of each and every one of the restoration efforts we’ve helped support and would like to highlight with you a few notable success stories in which we have played a major role.  


Founded in the early 1880’s by LDS member Chester Call, Chesterfield persevered through several difficult winters and droughts to become a bustling town of over 400 people at its peak. The Great Depression and nation-wide decline in agriculture in the ‘20s led to the fall of Chesterfield, which was generally abandoned in 1941.

Glade Creek

Nestled on the bank of the meandering Pack Creek, surrounded by 200-year-old pine, fir, and spruce, the campsite provided a picturesque respite for the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805.

Silver City School

Silver City Mining Town and Schoolhouse, established in 1864, Silver City is an historic mining town in southwest Idaho’s Owyhee Mountains and served as the county seat until 1934. The schoolhouse was built in 1892 and was active in this capacity until Melba became the new county seat and the town’s population steeply declined.

Show Your Support!

Show your support for preserving Idaho’s rich history and culture. Donate today!

Scroll to Top