Why One Woman Wants To Preserve A 120 Year Old Boise Mansion

Apr 4, 2014

The Fowler house.
The Fowler house.
Credit Idaho State Historical Society

Parts of downtown Boise were once covered with stately homes and mansions full of history. Slowly, those homes have disappeared, and have been replaced with new development. One woman is working to save one of those remaining historic homes, the Fowler house at 5th and Myrtle, from demolition.

“It has been a huge problem in this area,” says Samantha Martin, the founder of Buffalo Heart Homes. “We lose homes constantly. Most of them were the only example of their style in this city.”

Martin and Buffalo Heart Homes want to rescue the Fowler house, move it to land across the street, and turn it into an arts collective. “The Fowler house is over 120 years old,” says Martin. “It was built in 1894 and hasn’t been altered since it was first built.”

She’s got the backing of the Idaho historical preservation council, known as Preservation Idaho. Trilogy Development, Inc. who owns the Fowler house, is helping too, with some cash and the promise Martin can save the home, if she can relocate it. And people are already donating money to her cause.

But time is running out.

The land Martin wants to buy as the new site for the Fowler house goes up for auction April 11. She isn’t sure how much money she needs, as the foreclosed property will go to the highest bidder. She has a few thousand dollars raised already, but is hoping for more donations or some other way to acquire the land.

If Martin is successful, the Buffalo Heart Community Foundation wants to restore the Fowler house and turn it into a nonprofit community space, an arts collective, which would be a haven for artistic development in Boise. “We really want to create a community art, music, performance space.”

“I really want to just put time and energy into creating something for the community,” says Martin. “It’s up to [us to] create the world we live in and this is a good way to start doing something.”

Preservation Idaho has put together this video tour of the Fowler house along with more of the history of the 120-year-old property.

See what's next for Boise's Fowler house with this update.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio