Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church
About the Building
In 2001, Preservation Idaho included the Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in its statewide compilation of threatened or endangered historic places. Built as a mission church for Boise’s expanding Methodist congregation, this church was designed by Idaho’s most important architectural firm, Tourtellotte and Hummel with adherence to the popular Akron Plan of church design. In the late 1970s, with a diminishing congregation, the building was sold into private hands to an owner who planned to convert the building into apartments. This idea proved too difficult to see through to completion and by the time of our inclusion of this building on our most endangered sites list, it had suffered for decades from lack of appreciation, insufficient maintenance, and neglect. Learn more about the architecture of TRICA, see original drawings for the building, and view its incredible stained glass below.
A New Beginning
The Treasure Valley Institute for Children’s Arts (TRICA), under the direction of Jon Swarthout, acquired the building in 2007 with the intent of revitalizing, renovating, and rehabilitating the building for use as a center for children’s arts education. TRICA’s vision is to fill the gap within the school system by providing quality arts education. We were pleased that Jon included us early in their plans, and we were equally pleased to announce—only six years after our initial listing of this building—that Preservation Idaho would partner in the rehabilitation of this important piece of Boise’s social and architectural history.
Having launched its initial campaign in 2007 to clean and secure the building, TRICA quickly moved through that first phase with the help of a grant from the Brownfield Revitalization Program at the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality – a program that received an Orchid Award from Preservation Idaho in 2009. With the help of that grant and others from the Idaho Heritage Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the building was cleaned, stabilized, and methamphetamine residue remediated. Interior framing which had been constructed within both the sanctuary and classroom wing of the building to divide the space into apartments had compromised the structural supports of the vaulted sanctuary. A massive steel framework was erected to prevent any further settlement or deterioration.
With the building cleaned and stabilized, TRICA has launched a public capital campaign to fund the renovation of the exterior and to finish the interior spaces for use in its programming. The project has successfully received approvals from both the Boise City Historic Preservation Commission and the Boise City Council. Preservation Idaho has continued its involvement in the drafting of plans for the work which comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of historic properties. TRICA is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization and needs to raise every dollar to save and renovate this special building. One of the most beneficial and direct ways to help this project is to make a personal donation toward the renovation. Please consider doing so online via the TRICA website www.trica.org.
In 1907 this church was a center of neighborhood activity and religious life in the rapidly expanding North End of Boise, and we expect that TRICA will once again be a cultural and social hub in this historic neighborhood. With Preservation Idaho’s participation, the Treasure Valley Institute for Children’s Arts will provide a powerful example of the impact that passion and preservation can make.
When designed in 1907, the architectural firm of Tourtellotte and Hummel employed the most modern ideas in ecclesiastical architecture for the Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church. Known as the Akron Plan for its origins in Akron, Ohio, the church’s interior layout was designed to easily facilitate the programming needs of a modern congregation. These ideas, most of which are seen in the TRICA building, typically included a raked floor in the sanctuary, which treated the congregants as an audience; an easily manipulated floorplan that used folding or sliding doors to allow for the expansion of the sanctuary into the Sunday School space; and the ringing of the Sunday School itself with smaller classrooms to ease the transition from large group meetings to more intimate discussions. Learn more about the Akron Plan. Boise’s other example of Akron Plan church architecture, the Capitol City Christian Church, was the site of Preservation Idaho’s 30th Annual Orchid and Onion Awards in May of 2007.
The stained glass of TRICA is typical of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was likely produced by a company for the mail-order market. Though damaged through neglect and vandalism, the glass is important to the building as the last vestige of its original religious use. These windows are in the process of being removed for safe-keeping. When the project is completed and the windows restored, they will be returned to their original locations.