There will be more activity in the Central Addition Neighborhood in the next several weeks than there has been in decades. Long-forgotten by some and coveted by developers with some pretty big plans, the neighborhood, first platted at the turn of the 19th century, has seen better days. Once one of the most prestigious areas in the city, more and more of its buildings in the past decade fell victim to arson, vandalism and the wrecking ball—sometimes all three.
Of the five remaining homes on South Fifth Street, three (and possibly four) will see new life in homes-away-from-home as California-based LocalConstruct, which has big plans for the neighborhood, helps to move or deconstruct some of the structures.
"I see this as the best possible outcome for these homes. From a preservation scenario: Is this the best possible outcome? Of course not. We would have loved to have seen these houses remain where they are," said Dan Everhart, board member of Preservation Idaho. "But if things go as planned, we'll have viable pieces of Boise's past continue to be used."
LocalConstruct, along with significant funding through the Capital City Development Corporation, will help foot the bill to move some of the homes to new locales.
For instance, the Jones House, built in 1893 for Thomas and Winifred Jones at the corner of Fifth and Myrtle streets, will be refurbished and become the new home for Frank and Kathy Eld. More than a few people know Eld as the man who nearly single-handedly brought the Valley County historical community of Roseberry back to life. But the Elds will start a new life in Boise when the Jones House is ever-so-slowly moved to a parcel of land at Krall and Reserve streets near St. Luke's Hospital.
The Fowler House, built in 1894 for Edmund and Sophia Fowler at 413 S. Fifth St., will soon be moved to a parcel of land on 12th Street in Boise's North End, between Hays and Fort streets. That's where Josh Unger and girlfriend Jenaleigh Kiebert will renovate the home and make it their own.
The Beck House, built in 1906 for Mary Beck, will be dismantled and rebuilt in the Elmore County community of Atlanta by artist Rick Jenkins.
"And there has been some late word that a woman is interested in the Wood House," said Everhart. "A local woman has come forward—she's very earnest about it—and she wants to move the house to some property near Jefferson and 15th streets."
The Wood House, built in 1893 at 412 S. Fifth St., was the home of Mary Wood, the first librarian at the then-new Carnegie Library.
As for the last of the five homes on S. Fifth St.—the Stewart House, built in 1893 for Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Stewart—Everhart said, alas, the house is too big and needs too much work for anyone to step forward in time.
"The relocation would be much more daunting. Unless something extraordinary happens, it will probably be salvaged, at best," said Everhart.
Soon after the homes are moved, deconstructed or salvaged, city of Boise officials said they're anxious to extend the city's geothermal line through the Central Addition. The Boise City Council has approved a one-time $1.3 million budget of federal funds to extend the geothermal lines.
"Here's an interesting bit of history. In 1890, just as the Central Addition was first platted, there was a historical reference of the possibility of laying geothermal lines through the neighborhood," said Everhart. "That's about the time that hot was water was first coming out of wells on Warm Springs Avenue. It's important to note that they were thinking about that in 1890 and here we are, finally doing it—125 years in the making."
On Monday, May 4, LocalConstruct and Oregon-based designers from Holst Architecture will stand before the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission for approval of what it wants to call the "Roost," a seven-story, 204,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 401 S. Fifth St. According to architects, the development will include a "farm to table" experience for residents, with garden plots and cooking/dining areas, a community open space along Broad Street, and five housing levels built in a rippling wave-like design.
Make way for the new Central Addition.