The Union Block Building is a Richardsonian Romanesque-styled building. It was designed by architect John E. Tourellotte in 1899 and was completed in 1902 at a cost of approximately $35,000. The builder, J.W. Smith used brick and sandstone. The Sandstone was quarried locally at Tablerock.
The Union Block has five arches, and large, arched windows. The front of the building is 125 feet. The Building also features skylights. It is often said to be Boise’s first “condo” because the first five people who lived in it were strong supporters of the North. After the Civil War, they were angry with all the southern sympathizers, so to pledge their allegiance and show their support to the North and its victory, they named it the Union Block Building.
The first business that occupied the Union Block Building was Capitol News and Printing Co. Through 1936 to 1990 a number of different businesses occupied the Union Block. In the 1940s Frank?s Roller Rink was upstairs and it also housed a bowling alley. In the mid 1950s, soundproofing was installed so that the tap dancing that went on in Lloyd Carison’s dance studio wouldn’t disturb the customer’s in the drug store below.
In 1979 the Union Block was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. For nearly 16 years, the building was practically empty, until it was renovated in 1995. The upstairs was restored keeping the original office space plan, wood work and original windows. In 1996, several eateries opened that continue to serve the public today. The ballroom above was also renamed the Rose Room which hosts all kinds of events; mainly weddings, rehearsals, parties, dances, dinners, theatrical performances, and meetings. The Union Block Building is a unique and beautiful part of downtown Boise; one that should certainly not be missed!!!
(historic photo courtesy of Nathan Wilson)