The story of the Cabin, A Literary Center for Idaho, represents both the bounty of the forests of Idaho and the results of the efforts of many people to retain and embrace the history and distinct landscape of the state. This unique landmark was built between 1939 and 1940 for the State Forestry Department as part of the celebration of Idaho’s 50th anniversary.
Designed by Hans Hulbe, architect for the Boise Payette Lumber Company, the building was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps from Idaho Englemann Spruce trees under the direction of emigrant Finnish craftsmen from the McCall area. Each interior room is finished with indigenous Idaho lumber donated by the state’s timber companies—hence, it was originally known as “Chateau de Bois.” Though valued at $40,000 upon completion, the structure cost taxpayers only $1,600. The building sits along the Boise River, adjacent to the greenbelt and the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, which was constructed in 2002.
Since 2000, The Cabin’s members and supporters have raised over half a million dollars for continued building renovation and improvements, including ADA compliance, that support its growing roster of programs.
The City of Boise purchased the building from the state in 1992. A library consultant recommended demolishing the cabin to allow for a new library. Preservation Idaho was one of the groups that sounded the first alarm about the possible demolition. Working with several groups of local professionals, alternative uses were researched. Planmakers, a planning and urban design company, and ZGA Architects prepared a development plan for the cabin. The Snake River Writers were looking for a home and were able to bring key people together to initiate discussions for the cabin to be preserved as a literary center. The city rented the cabin to the Log Cabin Literary Center for a nominal amount, with the agreement that they would maintain the building and the city would maintain the grounds. Since 2000, The Cabin’s members and supporters have raised over half a million dollars for continued building renovation and improvements, including ADA compliance, that support its growing roster of programs. To learn more about The Cabin’s history and the many writing classes, camps, and author lecture series it offers, visit www.TheCabinIdaho.org.
The Cabin is a wonderful example of how exploring alternative uses for existing historic buildings can preserve the unique character of Boise while finding homes for businesses of all types. Preservation Idaho was happy to be part of the effort to identify this threatened site and bring people and groups together to initiate dialogues that might not otherwise have taken place.
- Visit The Cabin's website
- The historic State Forestry Department building is part of Preservation Idaho's self-guided walking tour New Deal buildings in Boise.