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From mechanic to tech to clinic: lonely historic building evolves again

It’s one of those pieces of Boise character that makes you question the story behind it. The King building at the corner of Main St. and Fairview Ave. has a historic look that you might expect to see in Old Boise, not surrounded by parking lots and 1960s-era retail buildings.

The two-story brick structure has a cornerstone indicating it was built in 1895, but according to the Idaho Historic Sites Inventory, a 1912 map of the area shows nothing but a vacant lot. Researchers didn’t find any solid reference to the building until 1921.  Either way, the building has significant history – anywhere from 97 to 123 years worth.

The side of the King Building illustrates its history through the cornerstone and old painted signage advertising former building occupants. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

“While this building would contribute to a historic district, there is no district potential in the vicinity,” the IHSI evaluator wrote. “It does not retain sufficient integrity or significance to be individually eligible.”

The building features large door-style front windows, and the historic inventory for the building indicates the building’s namesake, Frank A. King may have been a mechanic. Over the decades the King building housed auto repair, a blacksmith and more.

In 2006, Blackfin Technologies worked with Hummel Architects to give the building a total overhaul – converting it into an office hub for the high-tech firm. When Blackfin sold to an out-of-state company, Boise startup Wevorce moved in for several years – before its recent move to The Owyhee.

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From an auto shop to high-tech — and now to medical, the building’s history continues to evolve.

Michael J. Gustavel has applied with the City of Boise to give the building another facelift – with new windows, doors and awnings. The 4,323 square foot building will be converted into an outpatient medical clinic on the first floor, with support offices upstairs. 

Gustavel is an orthopedic surgeon who serves as a team doctor for Boise State University.

Rudeen Architects via City of Boise.
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