150 Boise Icons: Bureau of Reclamation Building

awebb@idahostatesman.comMarch 7, 2013 

Did you know? The Reclamation Building is Craftsman style — see its low, hipped dormers and large porch. The style was popular for residential architecture in the early 1900s, but was mainly used in the public sphere only for agencies related to resources, like Reclamation and the Forest and Park Service.

ANNA WEBB — awebb@idahostatesman.com

This unassuming brick building on Broadway Avenue played a key role in irrigating large areas of Southern Idaho and Southeastern Oregon.

Built in 1912, it was the headquarters for Reclamation's Boise Irrigation Project. Engineers and administrators managed major construction works - including Arrowrock Dam, Boise's canal systems and Diversion Dam - from the building.

During the Arrowrock project, the building also served as a private railroad spur for deliveries to the construction site.

The building was the first permanent office for Reclamation in the area, but that didn't happen before a fight, according to the building's current owner, the Idaho State Historical Society.

Boosters in Nampa and Caldwell tried unsuccessfully to lure the office to their towns. Reclamation occupied the Broadway site for decades. In the summer of 2003, the agency moved to larger offices. The old building's future was uncertain for a time, but in 2006, the Bureau transferred ownership to the Idaho State Historical Society.

The building's interior is largely intact, said Dan Everhart of Preservation Idaho. That includes original woodwork, doorways, hardware, several safes and a circa-1910 urinal in the men's room.

One cool original feature: A bank teller window in the lobby. It was here that workers would line up to get their paychecks after putting in their hours on Reclamation's many projects.

- 214 Broadway Ave.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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