As we begin wrapping up Boise’s Sesquicentennial year the Department of Arts and History would like to extend our deepest thanks and sincerest gratitude to the many Boise City Departments for their invaluable contributions in helping us make 2013 a complete success.
While the BOISE 150 commemoration is beginning to wind down, its legacy will not. BOISE 150 will likely be remembered for its variety of lectures, tours, and parties, but it’s also important to note the lasting effects this year’s projects will have on Boise. In addition to public art pieces throughout the city, BOISE 150 also sponsored the partial restoration of one of Boise’s historic landmarks, The Oregon Trail Memorial Bridge. The following is excerpts of an interview conducted with Greg Marsters of Custom Plaster LLC, the man heading the restoration of the Bridge’s lighting fixtures. Continue reading
For indigenous Mesoamericans the end of the harvest season brought a celebration of, and a communion with ancestors that had passed through this life and into the afterlife. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519, the month-long celebration was condensed into the few days that coincided with Christianized European Holy Days that celebrated the ancestral dead, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints; Day, and All Souls’ Day between October 31, November 1, and November 2.
In 1952 there were three funeral homes in downtown Boise when Russell A. Relyea moved from his Main Street location to a new funeral chapel and mortuary he built just past the Morris Hill Cemetery gates. The new chapel was built on a three acre orchard at the corner of Latah and Morris Hill Road.
Hardly a day goes by that one cannot find some form of entertainment in Boise. From lectures and sports games to concerts and wine tastings, the choices are endless. But, perhaps the oldest form of entertainment in Boise is performance. In Boise’s early years, several performance buildings were constructed to host live performances of operas, plays, and musical events. As film became more popular, many of these early buildings either adapted by adding movie screens or were replaced by newer venues built specifically for film. This month, we’ll be looking back at some of Boise’s most popular performance buildings from The Columbia to open air venues such as Riverside Theater.
The Boise Plaza at the 1100 block of Jefferson was built in 1971, but the history of the first owner of the building, Boise Cascade, dates back to the early 1900s.The predecessor to Boise Cascade, the Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company was organized in early 1903. The company’s principal office was located on the Noble Block at 10th and Main Streets and became a substantial presence in Boise. According to a Statesman article from January 30, 1903, the promoters of the company were among the largest lumber operators in the United States. Upon their arrival the large lumber company began to affect the landscape around Boise. For example, the placement of mills led to the construction of a road between Horseshoe Bend and Boise in the early 1900s.
The company changed its name in 1914 with the merger and purchase of The Barber Lumber Company. The Barber Lumber company had established the town of Baberton, located in south Boise near the present day Marianne Williams Park. The merger was a product of legal troubles. According to historian Brandi Burns, “The Barber Lumber Company faced some major challenges in its early years, including accusations of timber fraud in 1906-1907,” and these problems led to litigation which in turn led to the eventual merger between Barber Lumber Company and Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company.
Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company, however, also faced legal problems in the early 1900s. In 1907, Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company faced a fraud lawsuit, with negotiations and litigation lasting several years. In 1912, the company lost substantially in the case against plaintiff Mollie Conklin when the company was found guilty of conducting a deceptive business transaction.
By 1914, with the purchase of the Barber Lumber Company, Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company became Boise-Payette Lumber Company. This merger spurred optimism throughout the city, and according to a Statesman article from January 1, 1914 “the last doubt was removed as to the future of Boise as a center of commerce and industry.” Also, in the 1910s, Boise- Payette Lumber Company employed many women in their box manufacturing factory at Barberton. Women used saws and wood printing equipment to make the boxes, and earned decent wages for women at the time. Under new ownership, the mill and company town of Barberton thrived until the 1930s. In 1934 Boise- Payette Lumber abandoned their claims to the Barber mill and transferred their employees to Emmett.
In 1957 Boise-Payette Lumber Company merged with Cascade Lumber Company and by 1971 they had moved into their new headquarters at 1111 W. Jefferson. The impressive structure was designed by the internationally renowned architect firm of Skimore, Owings, & Merrill, founded in 1936. The firm also designed the Hancock and Willis (former Sears Tower) in Chicago. Besides their work in Chicago the firm is known for the Alcoa Building (1964) in San Francisco and the Business Men’s Assurance Company of America (1963) in Kansas City, Missouri. The building was remodeled in 2006 after ownership shifted to Rafanelli and Nahas. It was also in 2006 that the building became known as Boise Plaza.
 Boise City Department of Arts & History, Remnants of Boise, (2013) 118.
For the last 26 years the Stewart Gallery has been perfecting the whole-art experience in Boise, what curator Stephanie Wilde explains has been an attempt to bring galleries and performing arts together “for a more vibrant art community in Idaho’s capitol.”
Today, saving seeds has become politicized due to industrialization of farming in the 20th and 21st centuries. Despite the controversy, seed saving has had a long history and continues be a popular practice for many farmers and gardeners for a variety of reasons.
One of the primary purposes for saving seeds is frugality. Instead of purchasing a new satchel of seeds yearly, farmers and gardeners collect seeds from the previous year’s crops and keep them safe and dry until spring planting. Occasionally, seed savers could even turn an even larger profit by selling or trading excess saved seeds to neighbors or at the local market.
The canals have run dry again at the close of the summer season on the Boise Bench. Each year they deliver water to thousands of farmers in the Boise Valley, yet hey hardly impose on the public consciousness and their presence has become a part of the mundane, providing a mere backdrop to life on the bench. But for more than a hundred years the Ridenbaugh Canal and its feeder ditches have woven the fabric on which the bench would grow, and for generations has directly influenced the lives, economy, and culture of those who lived and depended on the water it delivered.
The Veterans Park Neighborhood Association received a grant from the Mayor’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant Program to commission a public artwork for the new roundabout on the new 30th Street Extension/Whitewater Park Blvd at the intersection of the boulevard, Stewart Avenue and the entrance to the recently created Esther Simplot Park (ESP). Idaho artists were invited to apply for the opportunity to design the site-specific public artwork.
A neighborhood panel chose three finalists, who have created site-specific proposals. The finalists are Ken McCall/Reham Aarti, Dirk Anderson, Sr., and Black Rock Forge (Dennis & Margo Proksa). Their proposals are on view for two weeks to receive public comment, both on this blog and at Jerry’s Market on 27th St. Afterwards the panel will reconvene, consider public comment, and choose which project to build.
KEN McCALL & REHAM AARTI
BLACK ROCK FORGE (DENNIS & MARGO PROKSA)
Boise City’s public art collection of over ninety works can be found on downtown plazas and streets and in public facilities such as City Hall, Boise Airport, parks and Public Library branches. 1.4% of all eligible Boise City capital projects are set aside to invest in site-specific artwork, with all artworks chosen through a democratic selection process. Public art invigorates residential and commercial zones, developing new places of beauty and interest and adding to civic vitality.
For Questions on this and other public artworks in Boise, Idaho please contact Karen Bubb (firstname.lastname@example.org).