The Bishops' House was originally built on the corner of 2nd and Idaho Street, but was later moved to its present site at Old Penitentiary Road. The Friends of The Bishops' House non-profit organization was formed in 1975 for the purpose of saving The Bishops' House from destruction.
The house was designed by architect James King and built in 1889. In 1899, architect John Tourtelotte designed a remodel of the house, transforming it into a grand Queen Anne style. Typical of the Victorian era, the home features the original hardwood floors and restored original woodwork. Antique furniture and elegant light fixtures create a graceful atmosphere, which is complimented with period wallpaper and window coverings.
Years of fundraising and donations resulted in the restoration of this graceful Victorian home. In 1977, the Idaho Historic Preservation Council (Now known as: Preservation Idaho) awarded The Bishops' House an Orchid Award for "Restoration of a Building for Productive Use," and The Friends of The Bishops' House is still committed to uphold this distinction.
The Bishops' House grounds are available to the public for event rentals throughout the year. The revenue is used for administration services, operating and maintenance expenses. Every event helps to restore and sustain this historic home, a part of our Boise heritage and Idaho history.
April of 2022 to the present found The Bishops’ House not requiring masks but being very careful in our cleaning procedures trying to keep everyone healthy. We have been very busy with many different events this year. Omicron Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma have held their monthly meetings at the house all year as have the Warm Springs Water Board. The Bishops' House Writers’ Collective used the Grooms’ Room (New Sumac Room) to gain inspiration for poems and short stories. This group has grown and will continue to write with us. The Boise Belles, a Boise fashion group of the 1940s-60s, helped us entertain fund raisers and held meetings as did the We Wear History ladies who sponsored a Vampire’s Ball at Halloween as a fundraiser for The Bishops’ House.
The Parlor was opened eight times on Sunday afternoons for the public to view the restorations of the past few years. At Christmas time we opened the house twelve evenings for the public to enjoy the many decorated trees in true Victorian fashion. Tours were given for the Boise area Retired Teachers Association and the Meridian Senior Center. Staff and volunteers from the Old Penitentiary toured the house to learn more about their neighbors. We have decorated a cell at the Old Pen for their Halloween activities over the past three years.
Sixteen couples held their wedding festivities with us along with a bridal shower, two baby showers, a birthday party, a graduation party, four Celebrations of Life, and two holiday parties at Christmas time. We can’t forget the Bards in the Yard this past summer with The Merry Wives of Windsor. Fun was had by all on those two evenings and an afternoon matinee!
We hosted a luncheon for the long running PBS series, the Antique Roadshow, on Memorial Day weekend when they visited Boise and filmed next door at the Botanical Gardens. We continue to thank all who participated in Idaho Gives last May for their generous donations. Just recently we used a most generous matching grant which we received from the Idaho Heritage Trust to restore the hard wood floors on the second level. They are beautiful, especially the Bride’s Room (new Rose Room). We had new carpet installed on the stairs and hallway with additional donations.
Our Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day Dinners were very well attended and enjoyed by our guests. We are looking forward to our Mother’s Day Tea and Idaho Gives in May. Mother Nature played tricks on us this fall, so we have a lot of fall/spring garden work to do very soon. We are looking forward to dedicating our new rose garden which we worked on last year, adding 8 new roses (2 more will be planted this spring) and a new bench with plaque space reserved for individuals to memorialize loved ones. The dedication is planned for this summer.
Our many thanks go to the gentlemen who maintain the properties owned by the State of Idaho. We are eagerly awaiting new paint on the outside of the house and a new roof, both of which are desperately needed.
The Friends of The Bishops’ House are looking forward to another very active year with our events and several restoration activities. Thank you for your continued support.
—The Board of Directors
Juno Van Ocker, President; Judi Gabriel, Vice President; Janet Tweedle, Secretary/Treasurer; Camille Meadows, Judy Holtz, and Jean Cassell
Amelia M. Berg, Executive Director