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Updated: Apr 1, 2020

W.G. Emery’s, “A History of Moscow, Idaho”

By EmilieRae Smith

In 1871, Asbury Lieuallen started a homestead a few miles outside of what is now downtown Moscow. Lieuallen was one of the first settlers in the community, but many more soon followed. By 1872, a postal carrier added Moscow to his route between Lewiston and points north. Lieuallen was encouraged by his neighbors to establish the first convenience store, which opened in 1875 on Main Street and Moscow was officially “on the road to prosperity.”

Moscow continued to grow, opening more businesses and a schoolhouse. The construction of the University of Idaho began shortly after the opening of the schoolhouse. In 1892, the university opened its doors to its forty students and one professor. Four years later, four graduating students walked across a small stage and received their diplomas.

In 1896, W.G. Emery stood on the front steps of the Administration building and looked east over the growing town of Moscow. He noted “its substantial business bricks and neat brown and white cottages and elegant residences thickly clustered along the western slope of a low, rolling hill.”

Emery chronicled the town’s beginnings in his 27 page manuscript, “A History of Moscow, Idaho: With Sketches of Some of its Prominent Citizens, Firms and Corporations” in 1897. He noted the town’s first settlers, like Lieuallen, the first businesses and schools. His manuscript was originally published by the Moscow Mirror Newspaper.

In addition to writing this manuscript, he also established a photography studio in Moscow and Pullman.

W.G. Emery was inspired, both literally and photographically, by Moscow’s aesthetic beauty, which is still apparent today. It’s the kind of beauty that has inspired artists and scholars for generations. Moscow is now home to three art galleries that the whole community gets involved in. The Prichard Art Gallery holds openings for new shows and the whole community is invited to come and enjoy. All the galleries in Moscow display and sell art from local artists.  Moscow truly is the “Heart of the Arts,” a tradition that W.G. Emery perpetuated through his book and photographs.

If you’d like to know more about W.G. Emery or look at an original copy of his manuscript, please visit Latah County Historical Society and ask to see Small Collections EME-1.

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