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Central Addition's History

Ramsey House, 414 South 4th Street, Central Addition, BoiseThe original Boise town site was first platted in 1863 and then expanded in 1867. Until Arnold’s Addition north of Fort Street in 1878, the original town site remained unchanged. This initial attempt to expand the city was at first unsuccessful, and it was twelve more years before the city really needed additional room to grow. Three additional subdivisions were platted in the North End in 1890 along with Central Addition and the Davis Addition both south of Front Street.

Prior to the subdivision of Central Addition in 1890, the property had been owned by Lafayette Cartee. Cartee, who lived at 4th and Grove, had moved to Idaho from Oregon where he had been Speaker of the House in that state’s legislature. The smaller portion of the neighborhood as it now stands was owned by Thomas Jefferson Davis and his wife Julia. Their home was at 7th Street (Capitol Blvd.) and Myrtle and they owned most of the land to the river including what is now Julia Davis Park. They subdivided part of that land to form the Davis Addition. The only part of the present neighborhood included in the Davis Addition is the block west of 5th Street.

Unlike the subdivisions in the North End that were much larger, Central Addition was built out quite early. It was full by 1912. Even during its initial development, it had a mix of both high income and low income housing and occupants. This was one of the most prominent neighborhoods in 1895 as well as one of the most affordable areas for Boise’s working class. Grove Street, previously the most highly sought address, was on the decline and it looked like Central Addition might be the next fashionable place to live—until the railroad.

Jones House, 419 South 5th Street, Central Addition, BoiseOriginally, the mainline of the railroad bypassed Boise in 1883. Following public outcry from the territorial capital, a spur line was built in 1887 that serviced the Bench. By 1894, a depot had been built on Front Street, and by 1903 the railroad extended east to the Barber Valley. Almost overnight this neighborhood was altered from idyllic and surrounded by orchards on the river to one block from the railroad line.

The neighborhood’s social decline was almost immediate, and soon it was solely a working-class neighborhood. Originally the neighborhood was home to lawyers, politicians, judges and jewelers as well as masons, carpenters, teachers, miners and blacksmiths. Eventually it was a working class neighborhood of machinists, meat cutters, Basque sheepherders, salesmen, and laborers.

Because the neighborhood has been neglected for so long, it retains a majority of its architectural integrity and individuality.

Notable residents

Prominent citizens of the city and the state that once called Central Addition home include:

  • Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Stewart
  • Joseph Straughan, who was appointed Surveyor General of Idaho by President Cleveland in 1885.
  • Frank Ramsey, who was appointed U.S. Marshal in 1898 by President McKinley.
  • Charles J. Bassett, who lived at 416 S. 4th St., was elected Idaho’s Secretary of State in 1901 and reelected for a second term.
  • Compton Storage and Transfer Company founder James Compton and his family owned one of the small cottages facing Broad Street.

More information

This brief overview is an attempt to provide a rough, concise history of the Central Addition neighborhood. Further information and additional details are available by contacting Preservation Idaho at 208-424-5111 or info@preservationidaho.org.