Good Job, Boise, on historic preservation!

Historic Preservation

Reflections on both Norman Tyler et. al Historic Preservation book and the 2010 “Endangered in Boise” blog for Preservation Nation (Timberline High School). This week’s readings were super interesting to me, and reminded me of the value of historic preservation law, at all levels, plus more so, the importance of community awareness about historic buildings as part of our cultural heritage.

Thanks to Mandy for mentioning Preservation Idaho’s bike ride tours. Have any of you taken a walk with Dr. Todd Shallat, or Barbara Perry Bauer of TAG History, Dan Everhart, or Mark Baltes in Boise neighborhoods? If not, go for it! What a great way to learn about Boise’s great architectural history, and the mistakes and successes of communities, architects, local design review, and more. The best tour I had was a Craftsman/Arts and Crafts/Bungalow walk with Shallat in Boise’s North End. I enjoyed the architectural styles part of this book, and realized there are so many great buildings/residences in Boise that are representative of these. Let’s hope they are preserved. Just like those great Chicago Tribune buildings, Frank Lloyd Wright homes, and cool bungalows. All in all, I think Boise has done an incredible job saving, restoring, reusing, and protecting our architectural heritage.

Next, here are a few places in Boise that have raised my ire:
-The Castle on Mobley Drive/Warm Springs Ave. (What happened to Historic District design review here? The text offers answers, but geez, come on…)
-The destruction of the Delamar boardinghouse and other buildings during Boise’s 70s urban renewal. Thank good ness it stopped short of the Egyptian, but we lost a lot of cultural heritage through the destruction of buildings.
-The “Hole” – now Zion’s Bank Building. Heritage, or moving forward? The only sign of the historic building history here today is the sign on 2nd floor. Hrrrumph? (And, the “Temple Spire” has ben altered – yes?)
-Teardowns – this is common in Seattle, Portland, and now, Boise. Latest new residence on Warm Springs is one example. Some old 50s home being leveled too . At what point do we lose the meaning of place and time? (See 103-105)
-The Foster’s Warehouse – lost that historic preservation fight. Another hrrrumph.
-What ever happened to the church that was being renovated for the TRICA Arts Center?
-Has the new Owyhee paid homage to its roots? What happened to the neat old photos of the 1910 building? At least it kept the high, decorated ceilings.
-Simplot home on 13th Street by 13th Street Grill – how long has that been in “historic preservation” progress? Can anyone talk to legal/NHPC mandates for these type projects?
-And another Simplot irk…JUMP. And to think the old beautiful train station once graced that area.

And here are a few places in Boise that have raised my curiosity, support, and respect:
-The Basque Museum & Cultural Center’s Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House. Ntl Register of Historic Places, and the community archaeological dig that supported the SHPO’s work when building was undergoing restoration. Very cool.
-Russ Crawford’s untiring work to restore the Mode Lounge, sign and all…plus, his search for old architectural and business photos at the ISHS archives. Also, the similar work in the Alavita/Fork lounge areas, with historic photos and restored light fixtures.
-The renovation of the Modern Hotel – keep that Travel Lodge feel, and way to go with adaptive reuse, Linen District!
-Preservation Idaho’s “Onions and Orchids” annual awards.
-So many downtown buildings that are being used for businesses.

2010 Endangered in Boise. What a great thing that high school students are involved in historic preservation! I loved the blog. I was not familiar with all the items, but I think a few “won” and a few became extinct? Some of you worked on Central addition, yes? Out of the woods, or not? Block 44; still precarious, as are many of the Carley properties – what about revitalization just for the developer’s economic interests? 1000 Block – Alaska, etc…it’s too bad Boise State moved out of that and into the really sterile BoDo (“FroDo”) building. Progress is good, but heck, they could have stayed in two places. Speaking of BSU, the article spoke of the University Inn, which was torn down for the university’s most tech building yet, and a formal entrance to the university, and many of the quaint homes in the neighborhood near Broadway have been slashed and burned for bigger, taller Boise State buildings. Not as bad as the St. Luke’s takeover, though. Googie still stands, thankfully not a Sambo’s, and that whole area I predict will be the next renovation area for Boise, along with Garden City’s Chinden Blvd. Bring on more art, wine, beer and nurseries.

Other comments that resulted from the readings:
-City planning and historic preservation, adaptive reuse, etc…”brown and greyfield” areas. Boise is littered with these old, defunct strip mall areas, lots of asphalt, and propensity for damage, crime and worse. They are blights on the land. Some cities are now re-building these areas into combined work/play/living areas. Kind of like the old downtown buildings that are now apartment living complexes, which has “saved” a lot of our architectural beauty and history.
-LeDuc vs Ruskin: restoration of buildings “as they should have been?” or “As they are, in all glory of its age?” Interesting – would love to talk more about this.
-Other cultures: I was fascinated to learn of other cultural perspectives about physical structure: the Japanese life/death cycles and perpetual renewal of structures (tear down and rebuild); Chinese saving through art, images, and writing; and Native American thought that place is sacred, not structure (Mother Earth gives and reclaims). What do the Chinese in Boise think abut the removal of the Hop Sing, or the Chinese Laundry by Gernika, or other cultural sites?
-Really liked the Greenwich Village infill (compatible and contrasting elements)

One thought on “Good Job, Boise, on historic preservation!”

  1. I agree with you that the students did a great job on their website! I assumed it was college students, maybe even those in a graduate program so I was very impressed by the Timberline students.

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