A man named Woodward says he intends to purchase downtown Payette’s historic Woodward Building.
And, yes, the people who commissioned construction of the structure at 23 S. Main St. 110 years ago are ancestors of this year’s prospective buyer.
Henry L. “Lanny” Woodward, 71 is a disabled Vietnam veteran of Vancouver, Washington, the city where he and the four other children of Catherine and J.C. Woodward Jr. were raised. He came to Payette last week to re-acquaint himself with the two-story building where his grandparents, Bessie and J.C. Woodward Sr., resided in one of two spaces on the upper floor.
In the other second-story space was the medical clinic operated by J.C. and his brother, Dr. I.R. Woodward.
Cissy Smith, the building’s current owner, informed the newspaper a few weeks ago that she was in talks with Lanny Woodward, who wanted to buy the building to restore it. Smith said she was elated at the idea of having the building return to ownership of the family whose name is spelled out in big letters just below the front roofline.
Although he ultimately wants to perform restoration work inside the structure, Lanny Woodward said he would welcome the current tenants — a ground floor consignment shop and Smith in one of the apartments upstairs — to remain indefinitely. He plans to start quickly on exterior cleanup, though, beginning with power-washing and sandblasting until “everything black is gone.”
According to Woodward and a Main Street structures survey compiled by the Payette Historic Preservation Commission, the Woodward Building was constructed in 1908. Various sources also name Boise architect John E. Tourtelotte as its designer.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Woodward said he has no plans to move to Payette, since the drive from Vancouver isn’t impractically long for his purposes. He said he sees his Payette project as “a ten-year plan” that includes not only the Woodward Building’s restoration, but also work to influence other building owners and local decision-makers to do everything they can to breathe new life into the historic downtown corridor.
Woodward, who was born in 1946, said he remembered visiting his grandparents’ building when he was a child, probably no older than 10. He also recalls that Greif’s Music Store was already the tenant on the ground floor. (Greif’s would later purchase the building.)
Lanny Woodward wasn’t the only descendant of the building’s original owners, the brother doctors Jesse Charles and Ira Richard, to arrive in town last week for a walk-though. Also in the party were Lanny’s older brother J.C. Woodward III, who had come from his home in Yuma, Arizona, and Lanny’s first cousin from Moscow, Idaho, Cathy Brown, and her husband, Dwight Brown.
Cathy Brown’s mother, Ruth Woodward Brown, was the only daughter of J.C. and Bessie Woodward to survive to adulthood as Ruth’s sister, Ardis, died at age 3. In addition to oldest son J.C. Jr. (Lanny’s father), who followed in J.C. Sr.’s footsteps to become a physician, there was a second son, Malcolm, who became a pharmacist.
In Dee Klenck’s 1989 book, “The Gems of Payette County,” Klenck writes that Dr. I.R. Woodward was one of the first local residents to own an automobile. Having a car enabled the physician to make more house calls in the countryside. Before then, attending to a patient at the end of Little Willow, about 22 miles distant, was an all-day trip by buggy, requiring the doctor to spend the night before journeying back the next day.