Former Boise City National Bank, built in 1890

A walk through downtown Boise reveals a variety of gorgeous architectural gems, from the Idaho State Capitol to The Egyptian Theater.

Boise depot
[Boise Depot]

I was lucky to have been hosted on a solo historical walking tour via the Boise Department of Arts and History, but before long, my camera became a whole lot busier than my notepad!

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

If you’re headed to Boise, a downloadable, self-guided walking tour map is available online at Boise Arts and History.

Boise/The Egyptian Theater

The Egyptian Theater

Built in 1927 and designed by Frederick Hummel, The Egyptian Theater was inspired by the Egyptmania that swept the world following the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.

Boise/The Egyptian Theater

Hummel also visited Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood prior to creating a vision for Boise’s theater.

Boise/The Egyptian Theater

At one time, as many as 100 Egyptian style theatres operated in the United States. While some of the details are pure fantasy, others are a bit more in tune with Egyptian history.

Boise/The Egyptian Theater Boise/The Egyptian Theater Boise/The Egyptian Theater

Many interior elements are also open to interpretation, but the best part of the Egyptian is just how awesome it is that these theatres are still standing (in Boise’s case, saved from demolition and nicely renovated) in parts of the country.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

Idaho State Capitol

It’s pretty hard to miss Idaho’s State Capitol (700 West Jefferson Street). The stately capitol, built in 1905, underwent a two-year restoration between 2007-2009.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

The lower level houses a collection of historical facts and interesting objects. Here’s where you’ll also find an information desk with brochures to guide you through the four floors.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

Peek around the corner to see a massive vault door that formerly housed government records, then walk up the gorgeous white marble staircase for an impressive view of the rotunda.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

There’s actually two domes here, supported by 60-foot-high columns: an inner dome of wood and plaster and an outer dome of steel and concrete, roofed with terracotta tiles.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

When natural light pours in, it’s a beautiful sight.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol

Don’t miss the House and Senate Chambers on the third floor. Both rooms include furnishings that have been designed to resemble the originals.

Boise/Idaho State Capitol
[Senate chambers]

Boise/Empire Building

Empire Building

Construction on the Empire, a beautiful corner building, began in 1909. The Empire houses a bank with old school desks and teller windows.

Boise/Empire Building

The windows on the alley side of the building are all original.

Boise/Idanha Hotel

Idanha Hotel

At 10th and Main, this six-story Chateau style hotel was considered Boise’s first high-rise building when it opened in 1901. Famous Idanha Hotel guests include Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Boise/Idanha Hotel Boise/Idanha Hotel

The architectural style of this colourful building would be perfectly at home in San Francisco.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, walk up to the equally Instagram-worthy Guru Donuts — they’ve got lots of varieties of offer, including a vegan yeast-raised donut containing flax seed, coconut milk and pure cane sugar.

Boise/Belgravia Building

Belgravia Building

Designed by J.S. Jellison entirely of locally-quarried sandstone, this former Romanesque style apartment block (at Main Street) has been converted to offices, a wine and government-themed restaurant, plus a few hair salons.

Boise/Inside the Belgravia Building
[Capitol Cellars, selected by the Idaho Statesman as Boise’s Best New Restaurant in 2015]

The Belgravia, built in 1904 and nicknamed “The Castle”, recalls Boise’s turn of the century elegance. Talk about solid construction: at basement level, its walls are two feet thick!

Boise/C. W. Moore Park

Next door is C. W. Moore Park, a collection of architectural remnants of old buildings throughout the city. It’s a fun spot to gain an appreciation for the Boise of yesteryear.

Downtown Boise Downtown Boise

I’ve included a couple more shots of old Boise that I encountered during my two-hour stroll. A big thank you to my tour hosts for introducing me to such a historic (and varied) city!

Headed down to the USA from Canada? Consider a data plan from our friends at Roam Mobility. Whenever we’re south of the border, we ditch our carrier’s high fees and make use of Roam’s talk, text and data plans to help navigate roads, keep in touch with family and stay on top of emails. Visit Roam Mobility online for package details.

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