There’s more to Jackson than national parks, wildlife and stunning mountain views. The town has a long and deep history that you won’t want to miss. All it takes is an hour spent walking around the heart of Jackson Hole to get a sense of what the town might’ve felt like in the early days.
Start your journey on the north side of town at the St. John’s Episcopal Church campus (Glenwood Street and West Gill Avenue). This block houses some of the town’s oldest buildings, including St. John’s Rectory (also known as the “Rest Home”), which was built in 1911. Over the years, the building has operated as a meeting space, a school room, a hostel, and a thrift shop, as well as a church. In 1916, the small, log St. John’s Chapel was added to the campus.
Today, these buildings house the offices of One22 Resource Center, a nonprofit offering aid and resources to people in crisis or hardship.
From the St. John’s campus, walk south on Glenwood Street and take a right on Deloney Avenue. Half a block west is the Jackson Hole Playhouse. This clapboard building was built in 1916 and used as a blacksmith shop. The space then transitioned to an automobile repair shop, a gun shop, a Model T Ford dealership, a bowling alley, and a post office, before being converted to a theater in 1957, which remains today.
From the Playhouse, turn around and head east on Deloney Avenue until you hit the iconic Jackson Town Square. On the corner of Deloney and Cache, you’ll pass Jackson Drug — a stone building built by Bruce Porter in 1937 using stone from Idaho — on your way to the east side of the square (Deloney and Center Street).
This side of the square is defined by the “The Club- house,” which was built in 1895 and used as the community’s first gathering spot. The building was remodeled in 1897 and again in 1912 when a second story was added, providing more space for meetings, dances, and classes. Around that time, the first story was expanded and began housing business space — including a bakery, a post office, a silent movie theater, and in 1919, Jackson Drug (before it was relocated). The Clubhouse was considered the center of town, and before long, other businesses cropped up in the lots nearby. Today, the historic Clubhouse building houses the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Store and Hines Goldsmiths.
From The Clubhouse, walk south on Center Street until you hit Broadway Avenue — then take a left. On the north side of Broadway (on your left) you’ll spot one of the Town Square’s only remaining residential structures. The log cabin, which now houses Café Genevieve, was built in 1910 by the Van Vleck brothers. The Van Vleck House served as both a mercantile and the brothers’ residence. Today, the building carries an historical preservation easement and was permanently protected in 2019 from future development through a community-wide effort to purchase the land and place greenspace easements.
Information and photos generously provided by the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum. To learn more, visit the museum at 225 N. Cache St. (just north of St. John’s Episcopal Church) or go to jacksonholehistory.org.