The city of Rathdrum was established in 1861 making it one of the oldest towns in North Idaho. In the late 1860’s, the pony express relay station was established and this developing town was given the name of Westwood. The name of ‘Westwood’ came from the local pony express rider Charles Wesley Wood also known as ‘Wes’.
When the postmaster Zach Lewis applied for a post office in the late 1800’s, he was informed that the town needed to choose a different name because the Westwood name was too similar to another town in the territory. Michael Crowely, a local business man, gave a list of names to the Postmaster Lewis. Lewis chose the name Rathdrum, which was named after Crowley’s place of birth (Rathdroma Ireland).
The Northern Pacific rail lines were laid in 1882 and the completion spurred the growth of the town. The county was thriving and thousands flocked to the area in search of gold and silver. By 1884 the town was booming with over 800 residents. In October of that year an unfortunate fire consumed 55 buildings and six city blocks, destroying the entire business district. Rathdrum’s booming reconstruction period began immediately and by the early 1890’s the town became incorporated. By 1908, the town had a variety of stores, two banks, five churches, two telephone exchanges and a brick school.
The Westwood building that is now home to Westwood Brewing Co, was built by Warren A. Hart in 1887. Originally named Hart Hall, Warren ran a private bank in half the building and rented the other half to Henry Reiniger. In his half, Reiniger operated a successful hardware store and sold guns, ammunition, stoves and tinware.
In 1908 the county seat was moved from Rathdrum to Coeur d’Alene and in 1924 another fire broke out. This fire ultimately leveled two blocks and destroyed 30 stores and residences in the business section. The Westwood building survived but some burned sections of brick can still be seen on the building. Hart reported damages in the amount of $2,000.00.