Boise breaks ground on $900K renovation of artist's home

The house is getting a $900,000 makeover.

BOISE - The city of Boise is preserving some of its rich history through a nearly $900,000 project to save and interpret some of James Castle’s artwork. Castle was a local artist from the early 1900s.

The home, located right off the street that bears his family’s name, is the house where James Castle did most of his artwork. Castle passed away back in 1977. Now, 40 years later, the city is hoping to revive some of his legacy starting with Tuesday’s groundbreaking.

“His story is just an intriguing one and one that needs to be retold,” Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said.

Castle was a Boise area artist who was born deaf and communicated primarily through his artwork. He would use his own saliva mixed with soot from the wood burning stove to draw on materials, such as discarded mail and even an old ice cream container. Castle’s artwork can be found in art museums all across the country, including New York, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.

“His impact as an artist on the state of Idaho in general is really a significant one, and one that we aren't fully aware of,” Rachel Reichert, the James Castle House manager, said.

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In the hope of spreading a little awareness, the Castle home is receiving a complete renovation.

“Move this kind of cultural space into the future, which otherwise might have been lost to time,” Reichert said.

Once completed, the block will consist of the Castle family home, two historical outbuildings where Castle worked, an outdoor extension, artist studio, guest room and book shop.

“There's nothing better than the history of a place and the art that belongs to that place,” Bieter said.

The Castle home will also house an artist in residence program, which will allow people to come and stay at the home and gather inspiration from Castle’s work.

“I think this project is going to create a place in Boise that will attract not just Boiseans to remember their own history, but will attract people from across the United States, and as, from what I've heard, maybe even around the world to come here and understand how an artist like James Castle could produce the kind of art he did,” Boise City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg said.

A project helping to shine a little light on one of Boise’s hidden gems.

“It is a story that belongs to Boise, to this area.” Bieter said.

The hope is to have the museum done and renovated by the spring of 2018.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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