Boise & Garden City

Revealing relics uncovered at James Castle home dig in Boise

Underground at a famed Idaho artist's home

University of Idaho archaeologists and their partners explore the former home of famed outsider artist James Castle in Boise's Collister neighborhood. The crews are looking for remnants of Castle's life in anticipation of a major project to covert
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University of Idaho archaeologists and their partners explore the former home of famed outsider artist James Castle in Boise's Collister neighborhood. The crews are looking for remnants of Castle's life in anticipation of a major project to covert

University of Idaho archaeologists, joined by volunteers and the Boise City Department of Arts and History, will continue to conduct an urban archaeology dig at the homesite of celebrated artist James Castle through Wednesday.

The dig has already uncovered fence posts, old cans, drawing pencils, shards of bone, broken glassware, rug fabric, nails and at least one “dauber,” or wad of cloth that Castle, known for using homemade materials in his art, likely used as a homemade paintbrush.

All of these items, modest as they appear, when taken together, reveal a picture of home culture during Castle’s lifetime.

Castle died in the late 1970s, but spent years living and working at the family home at Castle Drive and Eugene Street.

The homesite is the focus of a major restoration effort by the Boise City Department of Arts and History. The site will reopen in 2017 as a local culture center.

“This is a great partnership with the city and we’re thankful to be out here feel lucky to be out here,” said Mary Petrich-Guy, a University of Idaho graduate student.

The site is not only open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Wednesday, but volunteers are still needed, said Petrich-Guy. Volunteers should stop by the site first and sign up for a shift.

The city of Boise has embarked on a major project to restore the former home of artist James Castle to its original state and to expand it as a space for cultural programs, galleries and an artist-in-residence program.

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