Bown House

Bown House

Hours:  Open to the Public the first Saturday of every month.


Photo of Bown HouseIn 1865, Joseph and Temperance Bown homesteaded a 240 acre ranch about three miles east of Boise. In 1879, they built a two story sandstone house near their log home. The house had a decorative cupola and front porch. It became known as the "block house", and was renowned as the grandest dwelling in Boise's outlying districts.

Joseph Bown was known as a "venerable and honorable rancher." Temperance Bown was the teacher for two or three terms at south Boise's pioneer school. When the school burned, Mrs. Bown held classes in the block house until a new school was constructed. Parties and dances were also held in the block house.

The Bowns raised seven children on their ranch. Daughter Ella married Orric Cole, who donated the land for the Cole School site.

Sandstone blocks used in the Bown House were hauled from Table Rock Quarry, located north of the house across the Boise River. The house is built in classic Italian style, with 20 inch sandstone walls. The stone made this fortress home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The house was built with a cupola observatory and surrounding widow's walk. The cupola afforded a good view of Bown's ranch with its cattle and other livestock.

The site of the Bown House is adjacent to the Oregon Trail. The Bown family traveled along the Oregon Trail in 1865 before settling near Boise.

The house's site has changed dramatically; it is now incorporated into the campus of Riverside Elementary School, and is surrounded by a rapidly growing neighborhood in Southeast Boise. Children from Boise's elementary schools regularly visit the historic house to get a glimpse of Idaho's past.

Bown House is run by the Assistance League of Boise. To schedule a tour contact them at:  [email protected] or call at (208) 377-4327. You can also email [email protected].