The Department of Agriculture Building located at 2270 Old Penitentiary Road has been there since December of 1978 and was dedicated in 1979 by Governor John Evans. When the building was dedicated it was dedicated as the Wilson Kellogg Building. Also when the building was first built the street it is on was called Clotz Lane. The street name was changed in the early 1990s to Old Penitentiary Road.
Gerald Joseph Sprute was the architect of the project and Mitchell Construction Company was the General Contractor. The architecture motif of the building is Art Moderne with ribbon windows. The Department of Agriculture building is located at the base of the Boise foothills and is said to be modeled after the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Building.
Mitchell Construction Company was the General Contractor on the project of the Department of Agriculture Building. There was a court case later filed against Mitchell by the State of Idaho pertaining to this building. The state sued the contractor for the cost of repairing or replacing a defective roof on the Department of Agriculture building. The contractor then sued the supplier of the roofing materials, (Neogard’s Elastometric Roofing) the roofing technique involves spraying urethane foam sandwiched between two flexible membranes. The outcome of the lawsuit was that there was no viable claim under negligence, only warranty theories were applicable. A new roof was put in place through the funding of the Public Works Department.
Gerald Joseph Sprute, the architect over the Department of Agriculture Building forfeited his license in 1982. My speculation is that he either retired or went of business.The Department of Agriculture building is designed in the Art Moderne image. Usually this style has stucco exterior walls but the Department of Agriculture Building is made of bricks both, inside and outside the building. The main theme throughout the building is round and smooth. The only straight edges you will see are at the windows, doors, and the roof.
The building is full of rounded corners and a lot of horizontal lines. The roof is flat with a ledge and has horizontal grooves. The windows are sunk into the building and have very straight edges which add to the contrast of the building. Inside of the building there are roman style arches which are made of the same brick as the outside. When the building was built, the arches were not O.S.H.A (Occupational Safely and Health Administration) approved because they start so low that anyone could hit their head on them. So there was a requirement to put tall file cabinets on the inner side of the arch in the door ways. The Department of Agriculture complied and O.S.H.A approved the building. The building is said to be modeled after the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Building. This might have influenced the choice of colors for the Idaho Department of Agriculture Building. The colors of the bricks are of varying shades of red, orange, and browns. The colors give a desert feel to the building?s appearance.
The basement of the building was converted into offices and meeting rooms in 1994. Before 1994 the basement was much more open and strictly used for storage. When the basement was converted into office use the architect did not follow the brick rounded corners and arches theme that is prominent in the rest of the building. The basement is very modern and up to date with the times. The conference rooms are up to date with technologically as well. Each conference room has the ability to be separated into two rooms. Lights dim in front, back and sides. The sound systems are compatible with sound demands of this age. The basement has white walls and squared off corners and does not look like it could be part of the same building that is above it.
Perhaps a reason for the difference in architecture is that the Department of Agriculture was more interested in having a modern meeting space than in maintaining the same architectural style. The building was called the Wilson Kellogg building when it was dedicated. Wilson Kellogg was a worker with the Federal Government for about thirty eight years and led the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable campaign with the federal government.
After his thirty-eight years with the government he was named the Director of Agriculture by Governor Evans. While Wilson Kellogg, acting as the Director of Agriculture, was in New Mexico and he was impressed by the Department of Agriculture Building there and decided to have the Idaho Department of Agriculture Building modeled after it. The Department of Agriculture originally was located at the Clint Brand Building on Overland Road but then moved to its present location on Old Penitentiary Road when the building was completed in 1978.
When the building was first built it had an open floor plan and the farmers enjoyed going there. The Department of Agriculture wanted the farmers to feel that it was their building and that they could come there to get answers.