150 Boise icons: Idaho Statehouse, the 'Capitol of Light'

awebb@idahostatesman.comJuly 4, 2013 

  • FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION AT ANN MORRISON PARK: SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

    8 a.m.-4 p.m.: Idaho Statesman Chalk Art Festival presented by Craft Warehouse

    11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Chalk Land for kids

    1-7 p.m.: Kids' activities provided by Boise Parks and Recreation's Mobile Recreation Program

    1-2 p.m.: Dodgeball

    2-3 p.m.: Soccer

    3-4 p.m.: Water games

    4-5 p.m.: Dodgeball

    5-6 p.m.: Parachute games and Capture the Flag

    6-7 p.m.: Dodgeball and soccer

    3-10:15 p.m.: Treasure Valley Ford Stores Entertainment Stage

    3 p.m.: Edmond Dantes

    4:30 p.m.: Soul Serene

    5:30 p.m.: Idaho Statesman Chalk Art Festival awards announcement, including KeyBank People's Choice Award

    6 p.m.: Pilot Error

    8 p.m.: Dave Russell

    10:15 p.m.: Fireworks

    FREE HISTORY TOURS OF BOISE'S ORIGINAL PLAT

    The approximately one-hour tour will cover the city's original 1863 plat.

    Tours will take place at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

    Tours will leave from the Sesqui-Shop, 1008 Main St. Check in 15 minutes early. The tours are first-come, first-served. Call 433-5676 for information.

    Watch for a story about the tour and the original plat in Friday's Statesman.

    BE PART OF THE BOISE 150 SESQUI-PARTY

    The free, public birthday party will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday in Julia Davis Park. The day will feature music and entertainment at the Gene Harris Bandshell and at four other locations throughout the park - three "Sesqui-Scenes" and the Global Lounge Stage. See the full schedule at IdahoStatesman.com

    JOIN OUR ONLINE ICON CHAT

    The Idaho Statesman will run the last icon in the "150 Boise Icons" series on Sunday.

    Mark Baltes, chairman of the History Committee with the Boise City Department of Arts and History, and Dan Everhart, a board member of Preservation Idaho, will join reporter Anna Webb for an online chat from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday.

    They will take questions and comments at IdahoStatesman.com about Boise's icons and city history. Sign up for an email reminder in the Our Towns blog at IdahoStatesman.com.

    GET YOUR ICONS BOOK

    To commemorate the city's sesquicentennial, we've put together a book featuring the Idaho Statesman's 150 Boise Icons.

    Place your order at the Idaho Statesman booth today in Ann Morrison Park or go to IdahoStatesman.com/boise150.

    Books will be available in mid-October for $15 at the Idaho Statesman. There is a $5 shipping and handling charge for mail delivery.

Though it's an icon that belongs to the entire state, the Capitol is the heart of Boise. City residents get to enjoy a singular pleasure whenever they feel like it - walking into the building through unlocked, unguarded doors. They frequently find they have the massive space to themselves. Despite its volume and its purpose, the Capitol has always seemed more light and warm than somber and hallowed.

This might have something to do with the intentions of the building's architect, John Tourtellotte, who said, "The great white light of conscience must be allowed to shine and by its interior illumination make clear the path of duty."

Tourtellotte and partner Charles Hummel integrated light shafts, skylights and reflective marble inside the building to take advantage of Boise's copious natural light.

The white-domed building had a predecessor, a gabled, brick territorial statehouse built in 1885. It stood between Jefferson and State streets and 6th and 7th streets.

By 1905, Idaho had outgrown the territorial building. The Legislature approved construction of a new building. Tourtellotte and Hummel got the contract (around the same time they were building St. John's Cathedral on 8th Street). Crews built the dome and central parts of the Capitol first, between 1905 and 1912.

They finished the wings on the east and west sides in 1920. Demolition of the territorial building made way for the east wing.

The building underwent renovations in the 1950s and 1970s. A massive and fastidious two-year renovation between 2007 and 2009 added new subterranean wings and restored the building to its 1920 grandeur.

The renovation spared no detail. Craftspeople even replicated furniture and light fixtures in the styles of the originals. Builders removed dropped ceilings and reopened spaces as Tourtellotte and Hummel intended.

Among the most notable is Statuary Hall, a barrel-vaulted room that is among the most wonderful public spaces in the city. Have something on your mind? You won't find a better spot to sit and think things over.

Two statues stand nearby on the fourth floor: George Washington on horseback and the replica of "Winged Victory." Both are icons in their own right, included in this series.

The Capitol grounds offer up more special objects: statues of Gov. Frank Steunenberg and Abraham Lincoln, an Oregon Trail monument, and an 1840 cannon used by the Confederacy in the Civil War. A model of the Liberty Bell, given to the state by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 1950, adorns the Capitol's front plaza.

A monument to the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War, stands on the west lawn. The Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic donated it in 1935 - a time when the Civil War was as close to them as World War II is to current Boise residents.

Reader Ted Channel said that his father, Charles M. Wilson, engraved the words on the stone. Wilson worked for the Jellison Monuments company.

"He only had one eye and attended school only to the fourth grade. The wording on the monument is very long and he must have done the engraving very carefully to spell everything correctly," said Channel.

700 W. Jefferson St.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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