Saved From Demolition, Boise’s Historic Bishop’s House Celebrates 125th Birthday

Sep 26, 2014

Historic photo of the Bishop's House at its original location on Front Street.
Credit Friends of the Bishop's House

A house that was once home to Episcopal Bishops and nurses, and was saved from demolition is celebrating its 125th year.

The Bishop’s House was built in 1889 and is one of Boise's oldest continuously-used buildings. It was remodeled 10 years later by well-known Idaho architect John Tourtellotte. He added several rooms, a three-story tower and a wrap-around porch which helped create the unique silhouette of the home.  

Elizabeth Yates is the executive director of the Friends of the Bishop’s House, the non-profit caretaker of building. Yates says it was home to six Episcopal Bishops over the years. But over time she says it became something more. 

“The house was such a part of both the secular community as well as the Episcopalian community,” says Yates, “that it really does belong to the people of Boise, and in fact the people of Idaho.”

The house was built at 2nd and Idaho Streets, where it housed several families of Episcopal Bishops. Over time it became a senior center, and then belonged to St. Luke’s Hospital and was home to nurses.

The Bishop's House today, next to the Old Idaho Pen.
Credit Friends of the Bishop's House

In 1974 it was supposed to be demolished to make way for a parking lot. But Boiseans rallied around the building and saved it from destruction. It was later moved to a site next to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, where it sits today.

Yates says it’s become a wedding venue, and a cultural meeting place, at the same time it preserves some of the history of early Boise.

“That house has been around a long time and seen a whole lot of action,” she points out, “and it’s a long tradition of a lot of different parts of our community, education and certainly cultural and it is a symbol, I think, of where Boise came from.”

The Bishop’s House will be open for a birthday celebration and fundraiser on Saturday, from 1-4 p.m.

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