The big skyscraper spawned a smaller skyscraper, in a way. Across the parking lot from the Hoff Building, on the corner of 8th and Jefferson, stands a miniature skyscraper. It is 25 feet tall, measures about four feet wide at the base, and weighs five tons.
Many have noticed a resemblance to New York’s Empire State Building, which was built about the same time as the Hotel Boise. That’s likely because both the statue and the famous building in New York City have the telltale bold vertical lines and stepped back design of the art deco style of architecture. So did the Hotel Boise, now the Hoff Building.
The little—if anything that weighs five tons can be called little—skyscraper is one of Boise’s earliest public art installations. It’s called Inland Spire. It was placed kitty corner from Idaho’s statehouse during a major refurbishment of the Hoff Building in 1979. Before that, it stood on the corner of the roof of the Inland Coca-Cola Bottling Company building at 12th and Idaho.
On the Coke building the spire boasted round red and white coke emblems on each side and neon tubing on the top in Coca-Cola colors. It was something of a landmark, but the building was ready for demolition in 1979 when Phil Murelaga got the idea of moving the spire to the Hoff Building site as a way of emphasizing its art deco elements. Murelaga was one of the building’s owners.
John Bertram, who was working with Planmakers to replace some of the missing art deco elements of the building, thought moving the spire onto the site was a great idea. He had been spending months studying art deco buildings around the Northwest and chasing down elements that matched that style for the renovation. They were able to rebuild the exterior marques from the original building plans. Bertram chased down art deco reproduction lights for the first floor interior and found bronze and glass exterior lights for the entrances in New York City. Other art deco touches included a large clock dial for the lobby and floor identification symbols on each floor by the original elevator.
Taller skyscrapers now add to Boise’s skyline. The Hoff Building, at 165 feet, is overshadowed by the Zion’s Bank building, the tallest in Idaho at 323 feet. Only one of Boise’s downtown buildings, though, has a mini-skyscraper as part of its heritage.