WWII-era crates discovered inside walls of Garden City business

The historic find was made in Garden City.

BOISE -- Contractors for a local business owner made an unexpected discovery recently, inside the walls of a newly-purchased pottery store.

Colby Patchin purchased the building at 3831 West Chinden Boulevard back in February. But it wasn't until construction on the business - soon to open as Boise Pottery - began weeks ago that he realized the building held a piece of history.

"I got a text from my contractor saying 'Look what we found inside your building when we were doing the demo,'" Patchin said.

The construction workers had discovered wooden crates - hundreds of them - labeled MINES, ANTI-TANK in yellow and black lettering. The crates were stacked in three of the building's four walls, Patchin said.

Luckily, the boxes were empty.

"I haven't found any munitions of the actual mines," Patchin said. "That's a good thing, that might be a little scary."

The business owner learned the crates had been manufactured in Joliet, Illinois and packed in August through October of 1943, during World War II.

Wooden crates were common at that time, due to wartime metal rationing. But it's not clear how they ended up inside the walls: According to Garden City records, Patchin said, the building wasn't constructed until 1959.

Along with the crates, Patchin found the original instructions on how to place and operate the anti-tank mines.

Some of the crates have rotted away, or become homes for birds and small rodents, Patchin said. But others are in surprisingly good condition.

"Stuff like this, you just don't find, because after 60 years, wood just goes away and rots and decays, so a pretty interesting find," he said.

Patchin said he reached out to the previous owner - the building was formerly the home of Garden City Furniture - who told him that he had been aware of the crates, but had never investigated further.

Contractors will work to disassemble the wall of crates, which are nailed together.

Patchin said he has not yet made concrete plans for what to do with the crates, but will likely keep a few and sell others off to collectors.

"It's pretty amazing something just made out of these boxes that aren't exactly a building material has stayed here that long," he said. "If I hadn't come to do the demolition on it, it probably would have been here another 50, 60 years."

Patchin can be contacted at colby@boisepottery.com.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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