After gracing Boise's Franklin Street for a century, one historic home is no more, and the wrecking ball is hovering over another as the state of Idaho hastily plows forward with its plans for a parking garage and adjacent surface lot (BW, Citydesk, "State of Idaho: Home Wreckers?" Aug. 21, 2013).
"I got there before noon and all that was left were the front steps," John Bertram wrote to Boise Weekly Aug. 29. "They were left unprotected and now will become a surface parking lot adjacent to the new 600-space parking structure."
Only a week before, BW was sitting with Bertram, president of Preservation Idaho, on the stoop of 603 W. Franklin St., longtime home of Harry Knudsen, co-founder of Morrison-Knudsen Corp. The fate of the structure and 605 W. Franklin were tentative but Bertram had his fingers crossed that a plan from Burr Boynton to move the Knudsen House to the 800 block of West Franklin would save the historic building.
But the city of Boise's Historic Preservation Commission voted 4-3 to nix the plan, saying in order to save the Knudsen House, the plan included the demolition of another historic house at 812 W. Franklin. Boynton may still appeal to the Boise City Council.
Meanwhile, the state moved in with its wreckers and laid 605 W. Franklin to ruin.
Bertram called the state a "bully" in its ham-fisted favor of a 600-space parking garage, a surface lot at 603 W. Franklin and water runoff retention at 605 W. Franklin.
"These historic houses could have created a buffer to the large garage and served as an attractive edge to the neighborhood," said Bertram. "Even better, they would have served as functional offices and saved money, as the state rents numerous facilities in Boise."
But what the state of Idaho really wants, and apparently it wants it soon, are a lot more parking spaces.