Built in 1903, the “Dojo House” on 1512 N. 10th St. started as a small, local grocery store. This historically rich building is located in Boise’s North End and has been everything from an upholstery shop to housing an electrical contractor. During the late 60s, this house was the Boise Bible Mission, and in the early 70s, it was even employed as a federal government building to stake out neo-Nazis who were threatening to destroy the Federal Building. However, recently, it has been converted into a small business studio for various forms of martial arts. The current business owners, Randy Stillman and Britta Von Tagen, provide sword dancing lessons for children and adults, along with Nia dance classes and Amma therapeutic massages. Although this couple has not lived in this historically rich home for more than a year, they have already nicknamed it The Dojo – Japanese for “the place of the Way.” Stillman chose this name because he believes that The Dojo is a sacred place for martial arts to be practiced.
The original architecture of the Stillman and Von Tagen residence in 1903 was primarily American Craftsman. The elements of this architecture style are still depicted currently through the gabled roof and low pitched roof lines, handcrafted woodwork along the exterior walls, the extended front porch, as well as through the use of of mixed materials throughout the structure. After part of the home was remodeled in order to satisfy the demands of their business, the current Dojo came to embody a variety of Commercial architecture elements. The addition of the beautiful, polished bamboo flooring and the extensive mirror walls of the dance studio enabled Von Tagen’s students to practice in a more appropriate environment. With these recent installments, Stillman and Von Tagen hope to relieve stress, anxiety, and tension for locals in Boise.
Von Tagen describes Nia, a form of dance, as a “fusion fitness” program that allows nine different movements to mix together in order to help people achieve their best physical condition. The goal of Nia, a type of Eastern and Western philosophy and movement, is to allow people to rid themselves of their sedentary lifestyle. Von Tagen has traveled all over the world to teach people Nia. She has been to Scotland, South Africa, and various places across America to inspire people to find unity within their souls and eventually obtain a black belt.
With dimmable lights and an isolated booth in the back corner, Stillman can easily manipulate the mood of the atmosphere to help establish a peaceful setting for his massage sessions. Stillman was inspired to pursue traditional Chinese medical practices after he was laid off from Franklin Building Supply in 2009. After doing nothing by “punching the clock for 25 years,” Stillman admits that practicing Amma and running a Nia studio has helped him experience a new form of life. Amma, an Asian form of “bodywork” helps to alleviate pain through acupressure. Since he has worked in a lumber industry before, Stillman knows all too well the muscle pain associated with hard labor.
Currently, the 1000 square foot space at the entrance of the house is available for rent for various events that are involved in “low-impact barefoot types of things” such as meetings for local Buddhist groups or lessons in yoga.
The unique form of The Dojo derives largely from its flexibility in acting as a multi-purpose building; Von Tragen and Stillman not only conduct their business, but also live with two daughters in the building. Although The Dojo exhibits the unique qualities of blended American Craftsman/Commercial architecture through the business arena of the building, it maintains a consistent traditional craftsman outlook throughout the living quarters, which extend behind the studio and on the second level of the building. The two leveled home allows for a spacious area for both work and home life.
From grocery outlet to zen warehouse, who knows what else this 10th street wonder has in store in the future.