Preservation Idaho’s most popular annual fundraiser is also its largest fundraiser of the year.
It brings you the rare opportunity to tour a handful of historical homes in one particular part of town. Previous neighborhoods have included Warm Springs Boulevard, Harrison Boulevard, Hays Street District, Crescent Rim, East End Historic District, the Highlands and 17th and 18th streets in Boise’s North End.
This year’s choice might surprise some because it’s not a commonly known area when discussing historic areas of town. Nor is it consistent in its historic characteristics because of the way it has grown from rural-like settings to infill growth and population influx from the 1930s through the 1950s. That was also a time of varying home styles.
Welcome to the Kootenai Street Historic Neighborhood, described as the area on the Bench between Vista and Roosevelt streets just north of Overland Road. It’s a diverse neighborhood, and Kootenai Street is the only east-west street on this part of the Bench with bike lanes.
Barbara Perry Bauer, the Idaho Preservation Special Events chairwoman, said some have described this area as “the Harrison Boulevard of the Bench,” many of its homes having large lots that have not been divided.
Homes on this year’s tour range from Idaho’s best example of “storybook” architecture to Dutch Colonial Revival to a Prairie home that incorporates a variety of styles inside and out. Many are tucked away from the street under a canopy of old, protective trees. One of the potential homes on the tour is an early 1900s farmhouse. Overall, it’s an eclectic collection of homes built over a period of several decades.
“I think people are going to really enjoy that,” Bauer said.
Some of the neighborhood’s homes are more modest in size, Bauer said, but visitors will be able to see how people can comfortably live in a 2,000-square-foot home much as they did in the 1940s and ’50s. Many feature original architectural features like those little nooks that used to be so popular, as well as several intact, charming kitchens and bathrooms where you might see some of that nostalgic mint-green or turquoise-and-pink tile.
The tour will include about eight homes. The tour takes approximately three hours, rain or shine. Children 10 and under are admitted free; the tour is not wheelchair accessible.