The Strauss House was built in the 1860’s. It was originally used as both a commercial shop and residence, a common practice. Mr. Strauss operated his shop selling horse harnesses. Mr. Strauss maintained his residence for only a couple of years before selling the home. During this time frame it would have been common to see various merchants come and go. As mining operations became more difficult the population of the city fluctuated. This building was relocated to its current location in 1972 from the corner of Main and Meyer Streets.
The house was previously owned by Kenn Smith, a Korean War Veteran who first moved to Idaho City as a smoke jumper and later transitioned into an instructor with the Smoke Jumpers training program. Kenn trained hundreds of young mean how to parachute into forests to fight fires. Kenn maintained the home as a residence with a beautiful garden to the side. Kenn was a member of the Idaho City Historical Foundation, leaving this historic home to the foundation on his passing in 1997. The residence and gardens are maintained by the foundation and are open to the public seasonally. The house itself now contains the Kenn Smith Wildfire Museum and Smokejumper Exhibit. The Wildfire Museum contains displays on Detection, Prevention, Dispatch, Training and Suppression. It has an extensive collection of photographs of firefighting in the Boise Basin. There is a video center where you can view old Forest Service training films, etc. There are several cases with an extensive display of Smokey Bear artifacts. The Smokejumper exhibit has displays and artifacts from when the Smokejumper Unit was in Idaho City. It also has a computer where you can view movies about Smokejumpers, the Region 4 Smokejumper database assembled by Leo Cromwell, and other items of interest. The sign from the Smokejumper’s Loft when they were stationed in Idaho City is on the grounds. It contains signatures of many of the jumpers who were stationed here.