History

The Bi Metallic Building, home of the Oasis Rooms, began its existence in 1895 as a hotel and saloon. At that time, Wallace was largely a cedar swamp, a fact attested to by stumps visible in a crawl space under the building’s northern end.

 Burnt cedar stump - a casualty of the 1910 fire - still visible in the crawl space under the Bi Metallic Building


The Bi Metallic is one of few structures in Wallace to survive the famous 1910 fire. Of particular interest are its mosaic-sized floor tiles, imported from China and laid one by one in a simple pattern.

It is uncertain when the Bi Metallic Saloon/Hotel became the Oasis Rooms. In the world’s richest silver mining district, at a time when the men outnumbered the women nearly 200 to 1, one business may simply have become more profitable that the other.
The Oasis was hardly a unique establishment, being one of five such brothels along the town’s main street. Each business sported a neon sign advertising “rooms”—one wonders how many unwary travelers had to be told that these particular rooms were hardly places to rest!
For years the brothels operated without hindrance, until in 1973 a Boise Statesman article charged that a politician had agreed to go easy on law enforcement in North Idaho in exchange for a $25,000 campaign contribution. By the time the article was in print, Wallace’s brothels were closed. But not unmourned. At halftime during a University of Idaho football game, students unfurled a 40-foot-long banner bearing the plea: “Give Wallace Back Its Houses.”

The Lux Rooms, the Jade Rooms, the Arment Rooms, and the U & I Rooms no longer exist. Only the Oasis Rooms have been preserved just as they were.

       
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