10 Incredibly Old Buildings That Have Survived Demolition in Boise
We could watch abandoned mall videos on YouTube all day long. They're fascinating. They're haunting. They're like stepping in a time machine. But we're REALLY glad a dead Downtown Boise Mall isn't one that you'll find on there.
Sure, the Boise Towne Square Mall isn't quite what it used to be 35 years ago when it opened. At one point, we counted 20 empty storefronts. Even with a seemingly high vacancy rate, it's far from being considered a "dead mall." By its most popular definition, a mall is pronounced dead when it no longer has an anchor store. Boise Towne Square Mall still has department store anchors in JC Penney, Macy's and Kohl's.
The mall also continues to find new stores to fill those vacancies. The Hastings-esque EntertainMART that opened earlier this year is very cool and a great fit for Boise Towne Square.
Had the mall been built in Downtown Boise it stands to reason that it would've been a colossal failure. And yes, a Downtown Boise Mall was once in the works. Boise went through an urban renewal phase that started with the formation of the Boise Redevelopment Agency. One of their objectives was to establish a regional shopping center in the heart of Downtown Boise. According to Preservation Idaho, those original plans would've taken up 15 blocks of Downtown.
In order to make room for the mall, a list of historic buildings were scheduled for demolition including the Egyptian Theater, Union Block Building (former home of Old Chicago,) Idaho Building (current home of Prost! and Cupbop,) and J. O. Jordan and Son Building (current home of Merriweather Cider.)
They eventually revised the plan to shrink the mall down to eight blocks. A survey showed that the community didn't want a downtown mall. In their telling of the "Mall Saga," Preservation Idaho said 68% of respondents wanted the BRA to do something else with the downtown area and 71% thought preserving historic buildings were important.
Obviously, the Downtown Mall never happened, but 13% of the city's historic landmarks and buildings were demolished after the BRA was formed. You can actually see parts of some of them in C.W. Moore Park.
These historic buildings, however, have stood the test of time. They've been around for at least 140 years. Several were relocated but maintained a lot of their original construction!