The Empire Building, built in 1909, is situated on the corner of 10th and Idaho in downtown Boise. It was originally built as retail and office space, and has housed numerous restaurants on its bottom level. It was recently adjoined to the more prominently Greek-revival building housing a U.S. Bank. The building is owned by the Tomlinson & Associates, a well-known Boise real estate firm. It is one of the taller historic buildings of downtown Boise, at six stories. It differs from other downtown buildings constructed during the period in its height and blend of styles. It is reminiscent of Louis Sullivan-style architecture, particularly the Wainwright building in St. Louis. The building was designed by Nisbet and Paradice, who also worked on the Capitol, St. Johns Cathedral, and the Overland Building. The Yates Building at 9th and Main was also a design of Nisbet and Paradice. The Empire Building got its name for the Empire Hardware Company originally situated on the ground level.
The stone building features a mix of Greek revival and art deco styles. Greek revival is suggested by the towering, decorated columns framing the main entrance way and the scroll-like cornices under the eave. When looking at the main entrance closely, one can see delicate Greek ornamentation reflected the triangular pediment. Art deco is apparent in the use of rectangular decorations on the vertical sections of the façade, in addition to the cubes jutting out from under the eaves, the geometric patterns on the eaves themselves, and the metal emblems on the corner facing the intersection that read the historic name of the building. The windows surrounding the main entrance also portray art deco in the use of decorative geometric patterns upon the glass. The Empire stands out from other Greek revival buildings through its use of art deco elements. As of the recent renovation, a string of lights illuminates the roofline decorations at night.
As one enters into the main lobby, there is an intricate black and white circular marble design inlaid in the floor that says the name of the building in gold. Directly above hangs one of the circular wrought-iron light fixtures featured throughout the main entryway and lobby. The shape of the light fixture mimics and enhances the floor design. The ceiling of the lobby is divided into small squares, each with a blue, rust, and gold design. The ceiling trim is similar to the scroll elements of the outside. The elevators on the right side of the lobby are framed by Greek-style columns and marble. Beside the elevators hangs an out-of-use, turn of the century, ornate, golden mailbox. It reminds passersby of the history of the building with its worn yet elegant appearance. A pyramidal cream and gold-flecked marble water fountain is placed in the back right corner of the lobby, and appears to be a continuation of the marble floor beneath it. A twenties-style painting depicting a woman and a dog in front of the building hangs above the building directory. The frame of the painting is painted in gold to match the decorative style of the rest of the lobby.
The room to the left of the lobby abandons the style turn of the century style, and features an open space with a modern metal and wood suspended staircase. The business space to the right of the lobby has recently housed restaurants such as the Milky Way, Sweetwater Tropic Zone, and most recently, the Huddle Sports Bar and Grill, owned by a very good-intentioned, boisterous fellow named Phil. Although Phil took us to see the basement, it was not architecturally significant, as it was mostly storage and machinery. The restaurant space is also modern in style and features the use of chrome rather than gold. There is a mezzanine level of the restaurant accessible both through the restaurant and the lobby.