Girard sought help from several lumber companies and the City of Boise. From the city, he acquired a little piece of property for a new office in Julia Davis Park (now separated from the rest of the park by Capitol Boulevard). From the lumber companies, he acquired lumber. The Boise-Payette Lumber Company loaned him their architect, Hans C. Humble, and two builders who specialized in log construction, Finns John Heillila and Gust Lapinoja.
He sold his vision to the lumber companies with a letter of solicitation that included the line, “The building, when completed, will be a show place and a perpetual advertisement for the lumber industry of Idaho.”
The Idaho State Forester’s building would showcase that lumber by featuring different Idaho wood products, and intricate wooden ceiling patterns unique to each room (see second photo). The logs for the building are peeled, round Idaho Englemahn Spruce. Inside you’ll find yellow pine, white pine, Idaho red fir, and western red cedar. Idaho doesn’t grow a lot of hardwood, so the floors are of maple from out of state. The grounds originally featured sumac, syringa, aspen, wild honeysuckle, and wild rose, all native plants.
Girard spent only $1,600 of taxpayer money for the (at the time) $40,000 building. It was completed in 1940, helping to celebrate the state’s 50th anniversary.
The building was still in use by the Idaho Department of Lands and the Soil Conservation Service until 1990. The City of Boise acquired it in 1992. In 1996, the building became the Log Cabin Literary Center.
Today the site is called simply The Cabin, and the literary organization of the same name is thriving. But the building’s future is in doubt. Oh, it’s a valued building and is in no danger of being torn down, but the design for the new Boise City Library may mean the building will need to be moved across the street and into another section of Julia Davis Park. Preservation Idaho is opposing the move. A decision on whether to move the beloved building has not yet been made. What’s your opinion?