Teaching Preservation: Questioning a Controversial Demolition Plan

Posted on: September 10th, 2009 by Guest Writer 2 Comments

Written by Kim M.

Franklin Elementary School

Franklin Elementary School

Hello, it’s Kim again and I am going to continue discussing the issue of Cole and Franklin schools from my last post. Despite the fact that many believe these schools should be saved, the district has decided to demolish these buildings. Because this decision is controversial there have been many questions asked about the process and I would like to discuss a few of those in this post.

Should Cole and Franklin be demolished? What would they be used for if they were to be preserved? What would replace them if they are to be torn down? Demolishing them does have its points, for example, it makes the land more attractive to potential buyers thus resulting in more money in the district’s pocket book, which is a major help especially in today’s economy. However, is it right?

Cole was built in 1888 and is Boise’s oldest standing school. Many people in the area believe that Cole should be preserved as a historical building because of what it represents and how long the school has been functioning in Boise. Generations of school children and memories of the school make it easy to argue for the preservation of this building.

As reported on the Idaho Statesman website, one resident said, “I have many fond memories of that school, but I think Cole has more historical value for the community. The Franklin school and property could be used for many things or sold/traded for future property, where the Cole school ... should be maintained as a historical site." Another local said, "I would love to see the main building [Cole Elementary] saved and possibly turned into a museum about Boise's education history."

Another way to look at it is which is better for the community and that specific neighborhood? Even if we preserve these buildings is that all that they can be used for, a historical site? Can there be no other use for them? Could we use them, for example, as an office building, a pizza parlor, or a shopping area and maintain their historic form?

The issue of money does have to be considered; how much would the district and tax payers have to pay in order to preserve the building? Preservation Idaho found out that it would take more than $3,000 a month until it is sold. And since Cole has been on the market for over a year without one bid, the district has been left with drastic measures to make the area look more attractive to potential buyers. Because keeping this building preserved at $3,000 a month is quite expensive, and who knows when the schools will be bought, the sum could add up. However, demolishing the buildings will cost $306,000 which is 8 ½ years of maintenance cost. So which is the better financial decision?

Though the district has made its decision in favor of demolition, the community organized a rally, put on by Preservation Idaho, to save the schools. I attended the rally along with many other Timberline students and learned more about this issue and our next post will describe the gathering and the reaction of Boise residents.

Kim M. is a student at Boise’s Timberline High School and is participating in the Boise Architecture Project. You can follow the students here on the PreservationNation blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, get daily updates from their teacher, Doug StanWiens, on Twitter.

Are you an educator interested in teaching preservation in your classroom? Visit PreservationNation.org for resources, tips, and ideas to enhance your curriculum with lessons that will teach your students to recognize and appreciate the rich history that surrounds them.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

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2 Responses

  1. PreservationNation » Blog Archive » Teaching Preservation: Rallying Around a School that Matters

    September 16, 2009

    […] my previous blog, I mentioned that there would be a rally sponsored by Preservation Idaho concerning the demolition […]

  2. david dembowski

    November 11, 2009

    I bought the bell tower, and intend to place it just 1/4 mile west, on fairview ave. at milwaukee street. Not sure if it will be a wishing well, or something else, but it will be my contribution to the memory of cole school. The building would be standing in 100 years, and the school they built to replace it, will need constant maintance and is will not be around 100 years from now… really…. Boise Funeral Home is where the bell tower will be placed …. thanks