150 Boise icons: The Cabin

May 13, 2013 

Did you know? The Cabin is on the National Register of Historic Places. Along with the old Ada County Courthouse, the National Guard Armory on Reserve Street, North Junior High and others, it’s part of Preservation Idaho’s New Deal Architecture Tour. The self-guided tour is walkable, driveable or bikable. Find it at preservationidaho.org.

CHRIS BUTLER — Idaho Statesman file

The Civilian Conservation Corps, part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal to provide work for struggling Americans, built the cabin beside the Boise River around 1940.

It housed the Idaho State Forestry Department.

Its construction, just 50 years after Idaho joined the union in 1890, was part of the state's anniversary celebration.

The Forestry Department invited timber companies doing business in Idaho to donate wood for the project. The result is an array of rooms, each with its own color, character and patterning.

Here's a sampling: Idaho yellow pine in the building's entry from Boise Payette Lumber Co.; Idaho white pine on the main floor from Potlach Forests of Lewiston and Winton Lumber Co. of Gibbs; and Idaho red cedar in one office from the Diamond Match Co. of Spokane.

The donations also saved a lot of money.

Valued at $40,000 when it was finished, the building cost taxpayers just $1,600 because of the free wood and was nicknamed the "Chateau de Bois".

The city bought the building from the state in 1992. A group of Idaho writers founded the nonprofit Log Cabin Literary Center in 1995. They moved into the historic cabin and signed a long-term lease with the city. The literary organization, now known as The Cabin, has maintained the building ever since.

The group and its supporters have raised more than a half million dollars for building improvements since 2000. The Cabin hosts literary and educational programs for readers and writers.

Local writer Bill English nominated The Cabin as a Boise icon.

"What could be more iconic than a log cabin by a river that supports the language of Hemingway, Doerr and all the rest of the dedicated writers of this great city?" asked English. "The place is a temple of timbers."

801 S. Capitol Blvd.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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