Home destroyed by fire once belonged to territorial legislator

Credit: Matt Standal / KTVB

The Lubken-Bassett House at 416 South 4th Street in Boise

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by Matt Standal

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBMatt

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 6:34 PM

Fire destroys two homes in downtown Boise

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BOISE -- A historic home that once belonged to a territorial legislator has been gutted by fire, it's neighboring home destroyed too.

City officials say the homes at 416 and 420 4th Street now pose a major safety threat.

There's piles of burnt rubble spilling into the lawns, melted plastic, and building debris everywhere.

That's not to mention the public sidewalk that surrounds the block, and comes uncomfortably close to a teetering wall that faces Myrtle Street.

HOMES POSE SAFETY HAZARD

Two Boise Fire Department fire investigators and a Boise Police fire investigator gathered at the scene just before noon Friday.

The investigators patrolled the fire perimeter, entering 415 South 4th Street for about 30 minutes, but not 420 South 4th Street, saying that home had a basement completely filled with water, posing a major risk.

Fire investigators declined to give KTVB a formal interview, saying they hadn't had much time to investigate the scene and that both damaged homes were in danger of collapsing.

Detectives with the Boise Police Department told KTVB they'd be sifting through the wreckage searching for answers.

Meanwhile, several patrol officers remained at the location throughout Friday morning and into the afternoon.

A city inspector was also on scene to observe the damage due to the unusual nature of the fire, according to Jennifer Gilliland, building division manager for the city of Boise.

"We're tasked with the abatement of dangerous buildings code," Gilliland told KTVB, saying that dangerous, weakened structures can pose a major risk to citizens.

A structural engineer deemed that the house on the corner is in imminent danger of collapsing in the roadway and should come down.  A heavy equipment crew is set to demolish the house on Saturday. Motorists should expect some traffic delays on West Myrtle Street while the work is being done.  Engineers are continuing to assess the structural integrity of the second home.

HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE

The fire represents another significant loss in what was once a thriving downtown neighborhood called the Central Edition.

Sarah Schafer with City of Boise Design Review says the area's heyday was around the turn-of-the-century, and the homes here were built from the 1880s to the 1930s.

Furthermore, Schafer says one of the homes is historically significant. That's because 416 South 4th Street is known as the Lubken-Bassett House. Schafer says that house is noteworthy because it's an example of what's called the Second Empire Architectural Style, and is one of the few homes in Boise to feature that style.

According to city records, Mr. George Lubken built the home in 1893 for about $3,000 to $3,500. Most of the homes built in that area cost $500 to $2,000 at the time, according to Schafer.

Mr. Lubken would go on to operate the Capitol Bakery, while his wife opened a millinery.

The home was sold to Charles Bassett in 1899, according to Preservation Idaho. Bassett was elected to the Territorial Legislature in 1880.

Schafer says the city doesn't have detailed survey records that describe 420 South 4th Street as a significantly historic home.

However, the city does have on record that it was built in 1900.

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