Boise's Central Addition neighborhood had a bad year in 2014. Once one of the city's most prestigious areas, 13 historic homes were reduced to 10, then eight, due to vandalism, fire or both. The key to saving any of the historic homes hasn't been finding someone who wants to save the residences—it's where to put them. Moving a historic home is one thing; purchasing an appropriate parcel of land and renovating the structure can be monumental. But Boise Weekly learned that a Boise couple have big plans for the Fowler House at 413 S. Fifth St., which was built in 1894 for Boise jeweler Edmund Fowler and his wife, Sophia
"We're proposing to save, move and restore the Fowler House," said Josh Unger. "My girlfriend [Jenaleigh Kiebert] and I are always going on architectural walks and have been passionate about saving homes for several years. We've followed the Fowler House journey."
If Unger and Kiebert have their way, that journey would take the Fowler House to Boise's North End (Unger was reluctant to mention the exact location since he was still negotiating for a lot big enough to fit the home).
"It was ultimately important to us that we find the right fit for the house and make sure it's saved in another historic district," Unger told BW. "It's a big project." He's not wrong: The home includes three upstairs bedrooms, one second-floor bathroom and a tiny kitchen on the main floor.
"But the woodwork inside is amazing. It was never painted-over," Unger said. "This is going to take a lot of work, but we would hope to bring it back to life as a single-family home."
Unger and Kiebert are not architects or builders. He's a computer engineer, she's a librarian at the Idaho State Archive, but they aren't shying away from the task at hand: They're negotiating with Boise-based Local Construct, owner of the Fowler House, and have bids in with two local movers, one of which will have the delicate task of rolling the home through Boise's downtown. What's more, Unger and Kiebert will need to stand before the Boise Historic Preservation Committee to detail their plans.
"Local Construct, the city of Boise, everybody has been very supportive of this," said Unger, taking a deep breath. "But, wow, this is going to be big."