In 1886, several wealthy Boise businessmen, as well as out-of-town investors, created one of the earliest banks in Boise, called the Boise City National Bank. It is presently located on the corner of 8th Street and Idaho, and was built in 1891. It had previously been located on the opposite corner since 1886. In 1890, the company asked James King to renovate the building in a more modern style, for $40,000. On upper levels, red brick and iron built up the exterior, and bronze and oak built up the interior. The walls, two feet thick sandstone quarried from Table Rock, were recycled from the first bank, and now compose the first floor of the current building. Two vaults were constructed. The first of which, visible today, below ground, surrounded by polished white marble, held money. The 15-ton vault housed a large safe behind an 18-inch thick door. The second vault held documents and papers.
The architectural style is Romanesque Revival. Recessed and well-supported arches over third-floor windows, entrances, and along the roof are common characteristics of the Romanesque Revival style, prevalent from the 1870s to 1900. Although no rounded towers, often topped by simple, conical roofs, are present, the rounded corner at the cross between 8th and Idaho is perhaps a lower-cost version of this feature. The thick, solid walls, once again sandstone two feet thick, are also common in Romanesque Revival buildings. Since such buildings are expensive to build given the heavy materials and elaborate design, they are often used in the construction of large public buildings, such as museums and train stations. Although the 801 Building is a more simplified version of a Romanesque Revival, the underlying design is perhaps to be expected for an expanding banking company.
In 1906, three additional floors were added, for a combined total of 4 floors. By 1913, the building once again needed renovations. Tourtellotte and Hummel remodeled the bank, adding granite pillars to the new entrance located at the corner of 8th and Idaho. In 1932, the Boise City National Bank closed thanks to the Great Depression, and the First Security Bank occupied the space instead. Other occupants include the Balloon and Latimer Co., the Idaho Power Company, the Boise Water Corporation, and the JR Simplot Company.
Since the 1980s, the building has been occupied by multiple businesses, and renovated by several groups. In 2010, the Rocky Mountain Companies LLC, renovated the building as a historical landmark, and Preservation Idaho awarded the building in 2011 with the Orchid and Onions Award, which celebrates historic preservation. The building was originally called The 801 Building, since its address was 801 Idaho St. In the mid 1900s, the address was changed to 805 Idaho St. Although it retained its original nickname, it is also called the 805 Idaho Building, the Boise City National Bank, or the Simplot Building.
Photos of the original design, relocation, interior, and occupants are available inside the building. Below the Fork, a restaurant on the ground level, rests the money vault. The original Table Rock sandstone from 1886 lies on the first level of the modern building. Other businesses occupy the office space above; in most rooms, part of the original red brick is visible. A modern, high rise occupies the space immediately next door, in which several late 1800s / early 1900s buildings rested.
One of the waitresses gave me a small tour of the The Fork, a restaurant that occupies the first floor of the building, in the area where tellers would have been stationed to receive customers. Behind the kitchen and bar lies the original main entrance to the bank. This entry way features several archaic photographs of the 801 Building. One offers a view of construction on the original site (1886) of the bank, with a background of the new and larger bank in its current location. The address of the old Boise City National Bank today is 805 Idaho St; its nickname is the 801 Building. My guide explained that in the mid 1900s, the city reorganized the streets, and a new address, 805, was assigned to the old building.
Also present in the older photographs are a view of the neighboring buildings. In modern day, a typical modern high rise, complete with extensive windows and reflective surfaces, replaces the early 1900s view of a couple two-story, brick, buildings, one of them a drug store.