Bid accepted to relocate Boise's historic Knudsen House

The home of Morrison-Knudsen co-founder could move two blocks down W. Franklin St.

zkyle@idahostatesman.comAugust 16, 2013 

A bidder has stepped forward to save Boise’s historic Knudsen House at 603 W. Franklin St.

The Idaho Division of Public Works accepted a bid submitted by Burr Boynton to buy the 1905 Dutch Colonial Revival home and move it two blocks to 812 W. Franklin St.

The home would have been demolished if no bids were submitted to make way for a state parking lot. The state received two bids but awarded the sale to Boynton because his site kept the house in the Hays Historic District. The home once belonged to Morris Knudsen, cofounder of Boise engineering construction firm Morrison-Knudsen.

Boynton said he will rent the house as office space, which was its most recent use. Boynton said he was attracted to the Knudsen House was attractive as an investment and as an opportunity to preserve history in the Hays Historical District, where he lives.

“When I got involved, I did feel a sense of responsibility to do it and to do it right, to maintain and rehabilitate this house because people will be watching it,” Boynton said.

One complicating factor must be addressed before Boynton can move the house.

Another historic house already sits on the lot where Boynton wants to move the Knudsen House. It is smaller, in worse condition and lacks the unique architecture of the Knudsen House, Idaho Preservation President John Bertram said.

Boynton said the house hadn’t been maintained during 30 years of renting before he bought the property at the end of 2012.

Because the house is historic, the Boise Historic Preservation Commission must approve its demolition that would make way for the Knudsen House at an Aug. 26 meeting at City Council chambers.

The state’s sale of the house to Boynton is contingent on commission approval. The bid amount isn’t public until the sale is final, but state employees had said they expected the winning bid to be low, maybe even $1.

Boynton said only that the bid amount was “nominal.”

There may be another casualty to the state’s parking lot plans that led to the Knudsen House going up for public bid.

The owner of the neighboring house at 605 W. Franklin sold the property to the state and had arranged to relocate the house, state spokeswoman Jennifer Pike said. Those plans fell through, forcing the state to remove the home one way or another by Aug. 23.

The state is not accepting bids to relocate the house, she said.

“While the state continues to explore other possibilities, we are facing an absolute deadline of Aug. 23 to have this structure removed to meet (parking lot) construction schedules,” Pike said. “Salvage of the interior elements of the house may be the state’s remaining option.”

Bertram said he was disappointed that the state doomed the 605 house with its short deadline but was pleased the Knudsen House will remain in the neighborhood, assuming commission approval.

“The house will be a handsome architectural addition to the new block and maintain the legacy of one of Boise's most prominent businessmen who headed up one of the world's largest construction companies,” Bertram said.

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