(Authors have given permission for these comments to be posted. The most recent comments are at the top.)
Christopher Borders said:
I am Captain Christopher L. Borders, the Command Historian for the Idaho Military Division. The Boise Armory, now referred to as the Reserve Street Armory was built in 1937 designed by Hummel Architects. Construction was conducted by locally skilled laborers through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Its surrounding acreage was known as the Camp Bonneville Riding Academy Field where the Idaho Army National Guard trained in the evenings and weekends and bivouacked during its Annual Training periods over the summers. The training area’s main tenants were troops from Idaho’s 116th Cavalry Regiment, now headquartered on Gowen Field, south of downtown Boise. The Armory was designed as the State Headquarters for the Idaho Army National Guard and saw continual use for 34 years until 1971 when those offices relocated to the Bennett Building on Gowen Field. In its hay-day, the building contained administrative offices, an indoor riding facility, a messing area, and a VIP quarters. The Armory is a beautiful Art Deco design and contains a rich history. If anyone is interested, I have a few photos from the late 30s of the area during a typical Annual Training Period which show the building in the background (POV: Camp Bonneville and aerial).
Steve Scanlin said:
This is a classic building that is structurally sound (to say the least) and needs to be saved. I like many of the creative suggestions that have been made, but the reality is that it will have to support itself with revenue to keep open. One suggestion that is usually long term and would provide permanent revenue is government use in at least part of the building. That could subsidize some of the other uses which might also be connected in some way, for example, a Parks Department office that also administers the indoor pool and other recreational activities.
Doug Flanders said:
I like the idea of a public market. I also think a large (affordable) special events center is needed in Boise. Thanks for all your efforts!
Charles Hummel said:
Thank you EENA Armory Committee for your great work and your remarkable website. I viewed the architectural student drawings prior to the meeting at Roosevelt School which I was unable to attend. They illustrated several plans and good uses for the development of the property – all of which have been discussed further in the recent meeting and excellently summarized in Laura’s update on 2/11. The task will be to persuade the City to write an advertisement for the disposition of the property which stipulates a range of development options that supports the vision of the Committee. I also believe the occupancy density can be higher than the average for the adjacent neighbrohood without adverse effects but there is a traffic problem unless the Fort-Reserve-Avenue B intersection is corrected. That gets ACHD into the planning picture but that intersection should be fixed in any event. Let’s keep working on it. Thanks.
Ellen Mering said:
I have heard mentioned that the armory has geothermal heat. It would be great if this could be converted into a public hot springs pool. Boise has so many opportunities for summer recreation, but very little is available during the winter. A soak at the hot springs would be a great way for community members to finish a day at Bogus.
Laura Tirrell, MD said:
I hope that we can use the Armory for geothermal heated year round pools. Use the Armory as the bath house, shops and exercise studios. The pools at Steamboat Springs Colorado offer a model with a hot soaking pool, a lap pool and a play pool all outside and public work out space and bath house in the building. Even little Thermopolis, Wyoming has an outdoor public year round heated pool. Right now the only people in Boise who get to enjoy outdoor soaking and lap swimming year round own rights privately. I think public geothermal pools will be wonderful additions to our city that will help promote us as a ski and convention destination and enhance the health of our citizens.
Charles Honsinger said:
Hi: Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I think that all of the suggestions that I have seen are great. However, I have been speaking with a friend about another possibility. Given that the Armory is hooked up to the geothermal water system, why can’t it be made into a public geothermal bath/pool? I think it would be a great addition to the East End, and may likely stimulate community-appropriate growth and business in the area. I know that my family and friends would use it quite a bit. I am involved in geothermal water matters involving the city and other users, and can certainly contact or put others in contact with the appropriate persons to discuss use of the geothermal water for any purpose. Please feel free to contact me.
Keith Hickerson said:
For many months I have anticipated meeting you guys. While at sea I spend many evenings brainstorming MY vision, talking w/ fellow shipmates and ultimately family and friends since arriving home. I am now working locally in Boise- FINALLY! Thanks for organizing and operating such an interesting and (for me) inspirational group and purpose. I have a Word Doc that has many links on it which may be of interest specifically to Diane and which illustrate my vision. I will send this now and try to figure out how to attach my document for a follow on email. Thanks again! Let me know how I can get involved… in any way.
Jim Greer said:
Boise is one of the most livable cities in America. Just think of the civic jewels that we have created by working together over the years that we’re able to enjoy….the Greenbelt, numerous parks along the river and throughout the city, an increasingly vibrant downtown, a university that is expanding to meet the needs of today and future generations, a local ski area, a local technology business incubator that fosters entrepreneurship and formation of small businesses, and of course the list is much longer.
I believe that the City of Boise needs to come together in much the same way to preserve the Reserve Street Armory and create a new community-minded identity for this facility. Boise does need to strength its library system and I fully support efforts to raise funds to construct new branch libraries as well as a new downtown library, but let’s find a way to make the Armory a space for the community to gather. I support the vision of creating a multiple use facility at the Armory where we all can shop for local produce year round, in the coldest months of December and January, and during the same visit to the Armory watch and learn from local craftsman who still practice their crafts. Wouldn’t that be an exciting addition to what makes Boise one of the best cities in America?
Jennifer Leonard said:
I favor Plan A out of all of the choices. I believe the location would be perfect for a Farmer’s Market etc. My only concern is parking, as the parking around my immediate area has become so congested since the East End Neighborhood changed the zoning in front of my house. I don’t see that we can bear much more traffic if there is to be no parking.
Mike McClenahan said:
I am very interested in a neighborhood center for sustainability that can act as a prototype for neighborhoods throughout the valley. This type of center can demonstrate how to effectively adapt to climate change and other social, economic, and environmental challenges. The armory may be one of our best choices for this purpose and we need to begin this leadership now.
Jenny Fisk said:
I am the Reading Coordinator for the State of Idaho. I have been working with a group of educators and parents to design a Community Literacy Center that will function like a children\’s museum. It is currently operating in a local school in 400 sqft. It is called the Story Station with a theme of trains and currently offers weekly story times, book clubs for children, and family literacy events. The goal is to be large enough to run daily literacy based field trips to multiple classes, offer parents in our community support in their child\’s education, and provide the community with on going affordable litercy events that combine reading with music, art, drama, humanities studies, and physical movement to reach every child. All activites currently developed and those planned for future exhibits are hands-on and differntiated for different learning styles that would be unique to our state, and having a large site would allow Idaho to bring in some of the many excellent traveling exhibits our state has not been able to present due to lack of space. Boise State Education professors have discussd coordinating preservice teacher training at this site. Our city could set a high standard to encourage other cities statewide. We have samples of our preliminary blueprints and a power point presentation prepared for presentation. We would need a few days notice to present, and we would be happy to share our plans to see if they match the goals or your organization. A historical exhibit of the Armory shown through history and literature would be designed. I look forward to finding out how we may work together in the future.
Leslie Schoffstall said:
The Armory needs to be preserved. You have the old military cemetary up “Rocky Canyon” and the Veterans Hospital all within a close relation. I grew up on Logan Street just across the Flume from the Armory. My father was in WWII and both my parents have passed away very recently. My daughter now resides in the house my brother and I were raised in. My suggestion for the Armory is to make some sort of interactive learning area for Idaho Military History for the community. Yes we have the War Hawk Museum over in Nampa, but look at the history around Reserve Street, you also have the old Polo Field (Fort Boise Ball Park). I live in Southeast Boise, but my heart is still in the house on Logan Street. I remember seeing the Armory from the backyard of my house. It could do so much for the community. Make a section outside a park for the neighborhood, it could be a real shining star for the East End.
Thanks to everyone who attended the Dec 1 meeting, and especially to Charles Hummell for the wonderful history lesson and to Sherry McKibben and the U of I Urban Research and Design Center for facilitating the discussion. This was a good first step.
Brent Piits said:
I live in the East End and am a member of the Board and on the Facilities Committee of ANSER Charter School. We are currently in the process of finding a permanent facility for the school. The facility committee has looked at this site a couple of years ago, when the Theater was losing it lease with the city and thought what a great site it would be for ANSER. We could envision coexisting with virtually all of the other potential uses you describe elsewhere on this site. The hard reality for ANSER was the cost of purchasing and then remodeling this great historic building into a facility the would meet the educational and physical needs of our students, faculity and families. We would love to be a part this process. I will try to attend the meeting scheduled for December 1. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this further.
Erik Kingston said:
Please attend the initial visioning session this Saturday, December 1st at the Integrated Design Lab, 108 N. 6th Street (in Old Boise) from 9am to noon. This is a chance for Boise residents to share our vision for the Armory and surrounding land. I hope you can make it!
This is a great idea. I’m glad to have the opportunity to learn about what is going on with the Armory and my neighborhood.