In 1905 the Bear Lake Bank and Paris Post buildings were established. At that time Paris, Idaho was a thriving Western town. It was the first permanent settlement in Bear Lake Valley.
By 1912 the town was on the "cutting edge" with Bell Telephone, an Electric Power Plant, a Water System, a Dance Pavilion, the Paris Hotel, the Fielding Academy, a Dairy Creamery, it's own Railroad and Train, and in 1927 the largest office building in the Valley, known as the Browning Building, then the Hawkes Building, and known today as the "Bear Lake Hermitage" was built and made continuous with the 1905 buildings.
The structure originally contained a row of first floor shopfronts and second story office spaces. The main street facade is red-brown brick. Above the second story windows and below the parapet runs a galvanized iron cornice and frieze of bars and discs. Above the stairwell immediately to the left of the former bank, the original stained and leaded glass and tin stamped ceiling overhang survives, as does the miniature polygonal floor tiles at store front entrances, main entrance, and bank (gallery) lobby. Much of the early woodwork exists inside and out.
In 1995 the Craig Valentine Family bought the building. The Valentines claim a rich heritage in Bear Lake Valley. Mr Valentine's great grandmother was the first baby girl born in Bloomington and Valentine name is also the Wallentine name and heritage.
Orem, Utah is the permanent residence of the Valentines but they formerly had a home on the Lake in Garden City and the family has always felt a strong pull to and love for Bear Lake Valley.
The building they bought was very run down at the time. So renovation began!
First the south, street level three stores, (formerly the Drug Store, Shoe Shop, and Post Office) were combined to create a Recreation Center, Pizza Shop and Video store. This was run by Mr Valentine and managed by Brenda Patrick and Janet Eck. These were closed in 1999.
The Valentines, especially Victoria, continued to put all their time, attention and funds into renovating the upstairs of the building for their family. A former upstairs apartment was developed into a large kitchen, eating area, laundry and family room. A bedroom "condo" was remodeled and created for each of their seven children and a room for guests. Six bathrooms were remodeled. Craig, Victoria and each of the Valentine children; Brandon, Kami (husband Oliver), Heather (huband Matthew), Robyn, Libby, Seth and Shem, worked continually on the restoration, with help from neighbors, Nancy and John Hale, Larry Allen, Matt Dustin, and with special thanks to Robert Clark for his work on the building. Access was created from what had been individuated businesses into a free flow throughout the entire building. The upper north end was developed into a spacious and lovely home where Mr. and Mrs. Valentine would live when retired. A living room was created from the former Barber Shop and a "Bunk Room" in the former Post Office. Blue lions guard the main entrance.
The Ice Cream Shoppe was established in 2003. The former Bear Lake (Tri-State) Bank will be transformed into an Art Gallery in the future.
The building is now run by the Hermitage Trust and will host Family Reunions, Youth Groups, Workshops and large Gatherings.