What Happened to West Jr. High?




I can't actually pinpoint the day the old West Jr. High School on the corner of Emerald and Curtis on the Boise Bench went missing. It feels like it happened so fast, which I'm pretty sure it did once the wrecking began. As always, I feel a bit disoriented and sad when a building is destroyed. Architecture, particularly in our own neighborhoods, becomes such an integral part of our daily landscape that when a structure is suddenly taken away from us it feels wrong.

Built in 1952, the old West Jr. High was part of a boom in the building of schools that happened during the 1950s. The number of kids in the district doubled in a decade and both East and West Jr. Highs were built the same year. Additionally, in 1958, Borah High School became the second high school in the district, since Boise High was well over its capacity.

View from the Liberty Medical Center parking lot, looking across Emerald
  • View from the Liberty Medical Center parking lot, looking across Emerald

The City Council's approval of the new Blueprint Boise, a comprehensive plan and vision for the future of the City, highlights sustainability and reuse of existing structures as a crucial component of preserving and "greening" our city. It's too bad that the school building couldn't have just been remodeled. The developer was granted demolition by the City and plans to rebuild a retail/commercial complex.

All I can hope is that the idea of reuse was thought about carefully before the idea of redevelopment by the parties involved, although I'm not particularly hopeful given Boise School District's recent penchant for tearing down old schools. Regardless, we're now left with a big hole in the ground and an empty lot full of memories.

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