Designed in the Rhenish Romanesque style, the Johnson block is Idaho’s sole surviving example of the work of John C. Paulsen from Helena, Montana, who also designed other Boise landmark buildings such as the Natatorium, City Hall and Columbia Theatre, all of which have since been destroyed.
The design strategy was to restore the exterior of the building, including the rear courtyard, provide an accessible route and as much open retail space in the interior as possible, while preserving and archiving historical details and construction techniques.
The slate roof was missing large sections and the entire roof surface was thus replaced. One of the two turrets suffered so much fire damage that it had to be completely reconstructed. In addition to seismic bracings throughout the building, bearing walls were removed from each side and replaced with black stained beams and massive antique columns from Pakistan.
A new stair was added which incorporated decorative metal and teakwood, red fir stair treads and the restoration of the skylights above.
Idaho Preservation Council Orchid Award 2002
Photography by Deborah Hardee
In association with Trout Architects