The building at 1617 North 24th Street, more commonly known as the Marian Pritchett School or The Salvation Army Booth Family Care Center. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the Salvation Army was created and started its work, many of these types of hospitals were built across the nation, the first being built in Brooklyn in 1887. Boise’s was built in 1921 and opened in October of that year as a maternal hospital for unwed mothers.
The school soon expanded to house the increased demand. In 1928, a new home and hospital were added, and in 1947, the name was changed to the Booth Memorial Hospital, in honor of Minister William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army in London in 1865. In 1969, another addition was built on the property. In the 1960s, many of these hospitals across the nation closed down because they were not needed anymore because of birth control and the increased availability of abortions. However, some hospitals, including the one in Boise, instead evolved. On April 17, 1963, Idaho state legislature passed House Bill 355 to pay for one full-time and one part-time teacher. In the fall of 1964, the school joined the Boise School District as a fully accredited school with four teachers.
Throughout the 1960s, teachers were added, and by 1970 students were able to earn a full high-school diploma without leaving campus or doing any online work. In September of 2002, the school’s name officially changed to the Marian Pritchett School, in honor of long-time head teacher Marian Pritchett, who taught social studies from 1974 until her death in 2002.
In 2009, Idaho State Legislature cut all funding to the school, but the Boise School District and the Salvation Army continue to fund the school without help from the state. The school accepts pregnant and/or parenting teens from any school district, trying to make the experience as close to normal high school experience as possible. The students take the SAT, job shadow in the community, and attend career conferences such as the University of Idaho Women in Science conference. There are currently 45 young women and girls enrolled in the program.
On the school grounds is a large mural made by students under the direction or artist Liz Wolfe, shown below. It features a scene of stars, birds, and babies as butterflies, as well as an image of a child riding a blue bird towards the sun. It is a memorial to a child that died and whose mother attended the school.
The architecture of the main building of the school is very interesting. It is a Colonial Revival (also known as Neo-Georgian) style house because of several defining features. First of all, it is symmetric with respect to the center. Second, it has a hipped roof, where the roof comes over the sides of the walls. It has two stories, characteristic of a Neo-Georgian style house, and has a rectangular floor plan. The Colonial Revival style of house became very popular in the 1870s after the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 created a feeling of nostalgia about the American home, and architects and builders turned to the original American houses for their influences.
The Marian Pritchett School is one of the most interesting buildings in Boise, both with its rich history and interesting architectural style. It will continue to help pregnant and parenting girls with their lives and will continue to be a source of inspiration for schools across the nation.