Property Type: Institutional
Neighborhood: Downtown  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Eclectic
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The Boise Public Library has been a staple in Boise’s society ever since it’s founding in 1895. Originally used as a warehouse for storage, it was eventually given a more useful purpose when it was converted into a library. The women of the Columbian Club originally started the library as a subscription library and a reading room for everyone. Over the years the library has grown and changed along with the city of Boise in many ways.

In 1999 a man attempted to enter the library while wearing a holstered weapon which sparked the creation of a law which bans all weapons from the library. Stories like these tie the Boise Public Library to the city of Boise and make it a historically important building. If the walls of the library could talk I’m sure they would tell many amazing stories, but since they cannot they simply show us an older style of architecture which is only partly representative of the time period it was made during.

The Boise Public Library has examples of an art deco style in its architecture while maintaining a mostly modern international look. The art deco style is evident in the roof line which is consistently moving and flowing around the entrance and giving the library a classier look than a normal roof would provide. Art deco architecture also shows itself in the clear emphasis on going vertical which is evident by the words higher up on the building and the columns which fill the inside of the building. The stairs on the inside of the building are the most evident example of art deco as the style they represent is iconic of that style. The modern international is shown through the use of brick throughout the entire structure. The Boise Public Library lacks symmetry which is a sure sign of modern international architecture and combined with its regularity gives it a unique style compared to its surroundings. The well and walkway out front is representative of many of the types of entrances which became popular later on when it was being rebuilt and has a very post modern look to it.

Not exactly architecture, however there are many amazing objects surrounding the building such as the Indian rock out front and the use of boulders for signs near the entrance. All of this creates the Boise Public Library of today. The style that is shown in the Boise Public Library is representative of many buildings built in Boise during that same time period. The modern industrial theme was very common among most buildings built during the late 1880’s because it used cost efficient materials to build a stable and very usable building. The art deco parts of the Boise Public Library show up in many of the nearby buildings such as the art museum across the street and many of the other buildings downtown. The style shown is connected to the history of Boise; it shows the working spirit of the people, their strong will to succeed, and their desire to learn. It also is a direct contrast to the other architectural style popular in Boise which shows through the classy buildings such as the Capital Building. This contrast is much similar to the how the people of Boise viewed themselves when compared to the East Coast; Boise was a rougher, tougher town while the people of the east lived in luxury.

The Boise Public Library truly is an important part of Boise’s past and is continuing to contribute as an important part of the present Boise. The Architecture shown is a constant reminder of the historical side of the museum while giving the people who pass it by a chance to view something magnificent even if they might not know it. One architectural style of the Boise Public Library is modern. This style came about during the 1920s and 1930s when a group of “modern” architects decided to focus upon simplicity rather than the traditional focus upon decoration and designed buildings that were simple and unornamented.

The Boise Public Library was originally a warehouse owned by the Salt Lake Hardware Company and was built around the time of the roaring twenties. This building displays modernism as it was constructed for the purpose of storing hardware rather than for aesthetic purposes.

When looking at the exterior of the building, indicators of modernism can be seen. The Boise Public Library is constructed mainly of brick which is a primary construction material used in modern buildings. Also, concrete which can be seen from outside the building is used for support as in many other international buildings. The building also has plate glass windows and smooth facades. The Boise Public Library also has Art Deco stylistics in its architecture. Art Deco is a style that is based upon geometrical shapes such as rectangles and cubes. The entertainment sign in the library has Art Deco qualities. It consists of squares and right angles and gives the sign an abstract appearance. Also there are areas on the exterior of the building that display Art Deco qualities. On the rear wall of the building there is a focus upon parallel and vertical structures. The windows are separated by vertical brick pillars that emphasize vertical thrust of the building. There are also cement blocks above the windows that have no structural significance and were placed for decoration to emphasize parallelism. To the right of this there are sections in the wall where there is a indent.

The curved bench located in front of the building is of Neolithic style. The Neolithic era is also known as the Stone Age, or the beginning of technology. Structures of this style are often made of stone and are often crude in appearance. This bench looks Neolithic as it is made out of stone and has the appearance of being constructed from crude tools. The Boise Public Library also displays international style of architecture. International style immerged in the 1920’s and was part of the modernist movement. It shares many similarities with modernism but has its own distinguishing characteristics. One characteristic is that international buildings have facades that are 90 degrees to one another. The library has only four main walls on the exterior and they all are perpendicular to one another.

Another characteristic of international styled buildings is that they have windows that are broken down in horizontal rows so that there is spacing in between the windows. This can be seen clearly on the rear wall of the library; the windows are separated vertically by a pillar of brick and are separated horizontally by blocks of cement. This can also be seen on the front of the building where the windows are separated and take on the appearance of a grid.