The Evans Co-op Building started as a one-room log cabin in 1865 and
became a branch of Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI). The
original ZCMI in Salt Lake City was founded by Brigham Young, President of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was the first department store in
the United States. ZCMI stores were organized in many pioneer communities in
the West in the middle to late 1800s.
In 1877 two thousand shares at $25 each were issued for the Malad
Cooperative Company. David L. Evans was appointed manager of the Malad store
in 1884. He and his brother Lorenzo started purchasing the stock and eventually
became the sole owners (except for a few shares held by others in Malad Valley).
In 1910 the store was renamed the Evans Cooperative Company and became
known simply as the “Evans Co-op.” It was the oldest department store and oldest
continuously operating business in the state of Idaho until 2014 when the last
owner, Don S. Evans, grandson of D.L. Evans, closed the doors, leaving the
The Co-op Building was enlarged three times and is sometimes referred as a
“flat iron building” because of the distinctive shape of the front part. The original
store was a 20’ by 40’ log building built on the corner facing Main Street. In 1892,
a red brick building was built in an “L” shape around the original building. In 1903
the Main Street building was expanded, and the log building was torn down. In
1907 the “flat iron” part of the building was added to fill the block. The hardware
part of the building on Bannock Street was added in the 1960s.
The Evans Co-op building is located at the intersection of Bannock Street
and North Main Street in Malad, and the intersection is itself historic. Bannock
Street was the “Old Bannack Mountain Trail” that followed an old Indian trail that
led west to the Hudspseth Cutoff of the Oregon Trail. North Main Street was a
freight trail that led north to Butte, Montana, and was sometimes known as
Montana Street or the Gold Road.
Located in the heart of downtown Malad, the Co-op Building has provided
space for many businesses, government agencies, and recreational activities
throughout the years. The upstairs has served as a schoolhouse, dance hall, band
room, business offices, and general meeting hall. One of Idaho’s first bowling
alleys was located in the basement, along with a barbershop, meat market, and
newspaper office. For many years, the J.N. Ireland Bank occupied the corner (or
flat iron) part of the building; the original teller cages are still in place. After
Ireland Bank moved to its new location on Bannock Street, that portion of the
building housed the Oneida Pioneer Museum for a few years. The building was
listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
In 2018 the Malad City Council voted to purchase the building from the
Evans family. Plans for the renovation of the building are underway so that Malad
City Offices and a public meeting hall can be located in the building.
Source: The Idaho Enterprise_______________