State of Idaho: Home Wreckers? 

"I'm using the word 'bully.'"

The fates of 603 (left) and 605 W. Franklin Street will be determined soon.

Preservation Idaho

The fates of 603 (left) and 605 W. Franklin Street will be determined soon.

John Bertram wasn't mincing words.

"I'm using the word 'bully,'" said the president of Preservation Idaho.

Bertram sat with Boise Weekly on the stoop of the century-old Knudsen House at 603 W. Franklin St. The trees lining the neighborhood street provided plenty of shade that August afternoon, but offered little comfort to Bertram. He was steaming.

"The state of Idaho bullied their way through this," he said.

"This" is the controversy swirling around the Idaho Legislature's decision to fast-track an $8 million, 600-space parking garage (BW, News, "Idaho House Votes to Push Away City of Boise Rules," April. 4, 2013), including the purchase of two properties, the Knudsen House and another house and lot next door at 605 W. Franklin.

But it turns out that the two homes, which the state wants vanished, aren't even needed for the parking garage.

"They want to turn this space into another surface lot," said Bertram, referring to the beautiful corner lot where the Knudsen House sits. The home is named for its longtime owner, Harry Knudsen, co-founder of Morrison Knudsen Corp.

"And the lot next door would be used for water runoff retention," said Bertram, who added there was some hope for the Knudsen House.

"The good news is that there's a guy named Burr Boynton," said Bertram.

Boynton told BW that he has put together a deal to move the Knudsen House to the 800 block of West Franklin--two blocks away--by the end of the year. But first, he'll need permission from the Boise Historic Preservation Commission. There's already another house on the lot where Boynton wants to relocate the Knudsen House.

"With some work, we'll bring out the beauty of the Knudsen House."

The thought of moving any building, let alone an historic landmark, is intimidating.

"It's a big project," said Boynton. "Not overwhelming."

Meanwhile, the fate of the house at 605 W. Franklin doesn't look so rosy. A deadline has come and gone for a proposal to move the home. Bertram told BW that bulldozers could be moving in soon.

"I don't know if the state is incompetent or just being a bully," he said.

605 W. Franklin Street

Plans for the parking garage scheduled for W. Washington Street.
  • Plans for the parking garage scheduled for W. Washington Street.
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