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My Idaho: The Old Assay Building

Don at the Assay
Posted at 8:33 PM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 18:17:40-04

In a time when the value of downtown Boise real estate is sky-high, there stands a piece of property that may never succumb to the strong advances of an aggressive developer.

Dan Everhart, an outreach historian puts it this way. "There is extremely unlikelihood that anything would ever change on this block."

You may have driven by it once or twice, an old museum-looking building that could also pass for an old western jail, but you're not even close. "This building was established specifically to allow these miners access to government assay process to determine the relative value of their silver and ore and that was important to the economy at that time." As a matter of fact, this assay building is one of only three national historic landmark buildings in Idaho. Everhart explains. "The U.S. Assay building in Boise, the Cataldo Mission near Coeur d'Alene and the EBR-1 out by Arco."

Back in the day, the building in Boise is reported to have more than 75 million dollars in gold and silver through its doors. So how did it work? "This was the first office on the right side of the building that was also the public office where they would give the clerks their gold and ore samples. The purpose of the process here is to determine relative quality, purity of your mineral and percentage of your ore."

And just because Idaho was founded because of our mining resources doesn't mean you can't have a little fun on this piece of property over 150 years later. " It's something important to citizens of the state and Boiseans who treat it not just as an old building but a place to relax and recreate, we allow this lawn to be used as a public park if you will."

And later this year in October they're planning a fundraiser which will raise money for a major reinvestment in their landscaping.