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Idanha Hotel

Area Address Building Status Architectural Style
Downtown 928 West Main Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
Public French Chateau

The Idanha Hotel has played various roles in the history of the city of Boise, from a grand hotel to post modern apartments; it has done and seen almost everything Boise has to offer. This essay is a short outline of the history and role that the Idanha Hotel and the city of Boise. Fueled by westward expansion Boise was a booming town in need of a "big time" hotel for all of the states most important people and any of those important enough to pass through. This was in large part due to the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and the movement toward "manifest destiny," which was pushed forward by historian Frederick Jackson Turner. First mentioned in late November by "The Statesman," the grand hotel was said to be built 5 stories high and that the primary architect was to be W.S. (Walter) Campbell. Little information was given beyond this and immediate curiosity had struck the small city of Boise, Idaho. Nearly a year and $125,000 later, the Idanha Hotel was complete and ready to open in January of 1901. The Idanha shortly housed many who visited the "Trial of the Century" involving Big Bill Haywood in 1907. From this hotel, Governor Borah gave his vindication speech. It was also here that Harry Orchard rigged a bomb to kill Governor Steunenberg (which was called off due to his fear of hurting his confidant). He later succeeded in Caldwell a few years later. The French-chateau style hotel featured somewhat unheard of architecture for the city of Boise and was indeed a landmark building.At five stories high, The Idanha was originally the tallest building in the state of Idaho. It also held the state's very first elevator. This was a major attraction in its own, bringing forth many of the "rich" customers, and later youth who wanted just to go for a ride. Only three rooms in the whole entire building are not facing the outside. This means that they are completely indoors and without any windows. The Idanha also features one of the most impressive views from outside of all downtown Boise. Built with near gothic like pillars, it extends past its six floors (the plans for the amount of stories were later changed) on all four corners. The building features significantly more effort on the sides facing the streets of West Main and 10th Street than on the backside of the building, which has relatively flat surfaces and little to no formal design. It is quite obvious this corner of the building was never meant to be featured. The inside of the hotel features a large lobby for its time and was used quite frequently for big events in its early days. The hotel was used quite often for balls and inaugurations at its start and was visited by bigger names than almost any other establishment in the state of Idaho. At what were relatively inexpensive prices of $2-4 dollars (keep in mind this was the early 1900s), the hotel brought many local honeymooners as well as some of the most prominent figures in all of American History. In the few years after its opening, the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and (maybe lesser known) Benjamin Harrison all passed through its doors on their visits to the city of Boise. Idaho?s elite political leaders of the time held banquets there on more than one occasion it the buildings early years. Indeed, one could say the Idanha was once the center of Boise's elite and sophisticated social gatherings. Today, the Idanha doesn't hold quite the same mystique that it did in the past. Now, the upstairs rooms serve as victorian style apartments with relatively little remodeling done since its opening in 1901 (modern carpet, painting, and fixtures are still present in most parts of the building). The lower quarters of the building feature a few local shops and business and the popular 10th Street Station bar. The 10th Station is quite popular, but it does not hold the same type of customers that the Idanha did in the past. Although the apartments are nice, this is definitely not home to some of the more premium apartments in Boise either. Essentially, the Idanha building has taken a fairly large step down in terms of the social class in which it caters to. It is still nice, but would by no means be considered eloquent or fit for the current President of the United States. The Idanha Hotel, like many century old buildings, has its fair share of ghost stories. In the years during reconstruction to make the hotels apartments, numerous different phenomena are said to have taken place. There is an apparent ghost bell boy who was shot in the 1970?s who operates the elevator all on his own, particularly moving it to the 4th floor (where he was shot). When we stopped by, this is exactly where the elevator had stopped (we took the stairs initially not trusting the hundred year old elevator). In the early 1920s there is speculation that a man killed his wife on the second floor with nothing but a pair of scissors. She is said to roam the halls not letting people sleep at night. This particular rumor holds significantly less water than the previously mentioned story and is spoken of much less frequently. One could definitely say that the Idanha Hotel building is arguably the most prominent piece of architecture in Boise and even all of Idaho's history. With a brand new mural painted on the backside in remembrance of what it used to be, it provides remembrance to the past, as well as acceptance of the current role it holds in the city of Boise. The Idanha hotel is a must see for any interested historian in the city of Boise.

Building submitted by Jordan Shuell, Ty Swain, and Tanya Robinson

Cess - May 19, 2014
I remember going to the French restaurant there in 1979-1982. Anyone remember the name?

Cricket Thompson - Jan 19, 2014
I'd like to see the floor plan and photos of a 1-2 bedroom apartment. Also, I would like some information and stipulations of what is required for a potential tenant. It would be myself and my 13 year old daughter. Please send this information to my email : cricket_thompson@hotmail.com

Much appreciated,
Cricket A. Thompson

Carol Burns - Nov 21, 2013
Lived in the Boise in the early 80's. The Idanha was the place back then; hotel, restaurant and piano bar! Can't remember the name of the piano player who played regularly but he was fabulous! The restaurant was Austrian; the food was mouth watering. Anyone remember Tim Casey and the Sandpiper?

grumpyoldman5553 - Nov 20, 2013
i stayed briefly at the idanha hotel in 1979 prior to renovations.From my 6th floor room i had a breathtaking view.

dxidaho - Nov 02, 2013
I saw Roger Miller in 1972, he clearly state he wrote King of the Road in the Hotel Boise

I beleive it was ch 2 that interviewed him on a visit to Boise and they shot a short news story with him at the Hotel Boise (Hoff Bldg today) and he shoed them the room where he wrote the song.

I see recently two books on Boise history said the Idanha, someone made a mistake.

jlsmart1957 - Oct 31, 2013
Hard to enter when in wheelchair. I would like to go to Bombay Grill more often. The current system is not inviting to visitors.

Why? Don't like people in wheelchairs?

Annette - Jun 24, 2013
In 1969 I used to go to a disco called The Weeds located in the lower level of the Idanha Hotel. We danced all night, there were Go GO Girls in cages and the bar tender made great cocktails. It was like a private club with no cover charge. I will treasure my memories forever
Annette from England now from SF CA

RAM - Apr 09, 2012
I lived in the Idanha Hotel during the last half of 2011. I was on the 5th floor facing East and believe me, the view of Downtown Boise never got old, especially during the Christmas season with all the decorative lights up. I am a Boise native who has since moved away... but believe me, it was an honor to spend my last six months of living in Boise in the historic Idanha Hotel.

DavidP215 - Apr 03, 2012
During WWII all the Scot clan kids were sent up for the summers to stay with Uncle Angus & Aunt Nellie McArthur MacPherson at Toll Gate Ranch (Dry Creek ... at the westerly base of Stack Rock, NE of Boise), as the fathers were doing things in the military and the mothers worked full time in the defense industries.

About every 3 weeks, Uncle Angus would drive all of us to downtown Boise on our metal-wheeled buckboard ... over brick streets -- really noisy. We stayed at the Idanha Hotel every time -- the staff there were quite nice, friendly and helpful, and never once said, "Here comes the 'Grapes of Wrath' crowd." (Aunt Nellie did make us all put on our shoes before we went into the Idanha.)

It was something about the people of Boise & of the Idanha that instilled in all of us yound wipper-snappers to do well in life and always respect others. (Just great role models.)

Like a wonderful man I knew in Beverly Hills, Red Skelton, always would say at the end of his radio and TV programs, "God bless",

Pilgrim (the nickname John Wayne would later give me, first.) Dr David Armstrong, RA, DARP

SmokeyNomad - Aug 17, 2011
I have many fond memories of the Idanha and the 10th Street Station Bar downstairs! Indeed! I first stayed there with my traveling sales crew in the late 50's and early sixties, and then again in thee early seventies! Wow. How I loved that place!
~Smokey Townson,
Clearwater, Fl 8/17/11

tomtabil - Aug 09, 2011
It is alleged that Roger Miller wrote King of the Road while staying at the Idanha Hotel. See Wikipedia for cite.

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