The City of Boise has identified a site north of the Abe Lincoln statue in Julia Davis Park for a relocated site for The Cabin. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Boise City Councilor Scot Ludwig says a plan outlined by the City of Boise to move The Cabin Idaho to a site the city owns adjacent to Julia Davis Park isn’t the right move.

The city is weighing whether it should move the historic structure from its current site along the Boise River to make way for a proposed rebuild of the Boise Public Library on its current campus on Capitol Blvd. The initial design by architect Moshe Safdie does not include keeping The Cabin in place.

“I don’t know if it should be moved or not,” Ludwig said. “I know if it is it should not be placed on that parcel that is a very valuable piece of property the city can monetize.”

The piece of land in question is home to storage and maintenance vehicles by Boise Parks and Recreation. It sits at the end of 5th Street at the edge of the park, just north of the Abe Lincoln Statue. It isn’t a part of the park itself.

The city proposes to place the Cabin on about a third of an acre according to Ludwig – part of a larger 2.3 acre parcel. 

Potential site of The Cabin. Courtesy City of Boise/BoiseDev illustration.

“It’s worth $800,000 to $1-million to depending on how you value you the land right there,” he said. “That’s a big chunk of money the city loses the opportunity to monetize.”  

By Ludwig’s estimates, the full 2.3 acre site could be worth $6-million to $7-million.

“I’m a shareholder in the City of Boise, aka a taxpayer – and I see this parcel that has significant value that could bring economic value to the City,” he said.

“That’s a very valuable piece – and there has to be another place in that park that’s able to handle that cabin in a way that’s beneficial to the public. The Cabin is very important to the City, but I want to make a good business decision.”

City of Boise Director of Communications Mike Journee said a final decision on where the Cabin will end up has not been made.

“We are and have been looking at alternatives for the Cabin. These include the site we discussed at that time, keeping it onsite and other possibilities,” Journee said. “We expect to have a discussion with the city council around these possibilities in the coming weeks.”

The Cabin literary center is housed in a building near the current library built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1940 to mark 50 years of Idaho Statehood. It served as the offices of the State Forestry division until 1990. The City of Boise acquired it in 1992 and entered into a 30-year lease with The Cabin in 1996.

The current site of The Cabin off Capitol Blvd. south of the Boise Public Library. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

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  1. Put the cabin on the roof of the new library with a great courtyard around it. That is if you are going to spend all that money on a library. When it would be better just to create better parking and spend the $money$ on the neighborhood libraries where they will be more useful to locals and not just an expensive showpiece for our crowded downtown. But hell at least the politicians can brag about what they built. This area downtown is so crowded during the day I avoid it at all costs.

  2. I don’t know why a new library would need a larger footprint than the current library already occupies. Other than to satisfy the ego of Team Dave, that is.

  3. History belongs where it happened. Shuttling this prized bit of legacy around like a pawn on a chess board shows how much disregard this city continues to pay to its historic structures and historic places. Three homes and two churches have, to date, been unceremoniously dumped into Julia Davis Park because they bumped up against development and grew “inconvenient”. Julia Davis Park should not continue to be treated as Boise’s “Land of Broken Toys”.

    As we have been saying since June when the ambitious plans for the proposed new library were first unveiled, the “short shrift” that has been paid to “The Canin” and its legacy to the history of forestry in Idaho and to this city’s heritage is very telling about a library project that is overbearing in its scope, dismissive of local history, and symptomatic of how decisions are made in Boise on these sorts of spendy civic commitments.

    For, indeed, “The Cabin” and its fate — a forlorn and bereft little piece of history looking for a place to land — is now caught up in grander visions for our downtown, architectural hubris, lprivate discussions dictating public policy, and a growing way of thinking that prizes “monetizing” our collective civic future over all other considerations. “The Cabin’s” fortunes may now unwittingly serve, in microcosm, as a glaring example of how badly things have gone off the rails.

    “The Cabin” should stay on the site where its history occurred. The new library plan needs serious reconsideration and re-scaling. And then we need to have a serious conversatiion about what we want this city to become.

  4. Great reply David Klinger – well said!

    Many years ago a writer named L.J. Davis wrote an article titled, Tearing Down Boise and specifically stated, “If things go on as they are, Boise stands an excellent chance of becoming the first American city to have deliberately eradicated itself.” With each decision that tends to leave out the citizens – thus shareholders of this City – we move closer and closer to what Mr. Davis predicted long ago.

    It is a bit contradictory that the City has a wonderful Cultural Master Plan as part of the Arts & History Department, and the A & H Department is planned to be moved into this new library, while at the same time choosing to remove a piece of history from the very site.

  5. Thank you, Mr. Schofield, for your kind words and your historical perspective and words of wisdom. I am well-familiar with the L.J. Davis piece, “Tearing Down Boise,” which appeared in the November 1974 issue of Harpers Magazine and is still commonly available online. It ought to be required reading for anyone in a leadership or journalistic position in the Boise of 2018. We are reliving many of the same mistakes Mr. Davis noted in his milestone article and many of his predictions for the future of this city. Boisedev or Vanishing Boise or the Boise Guardian would be performing a tremendous public service by reprinting that article in its entirety for today’s generation. Those who do not learn from past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

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