What's the plan for former sites of Cole, Franklin schools?

Posted at 8:24 AM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 10:24:45-04

Long before the intersection of Cole and Fairview became one of the busiest in Idaho, the historic Cole Elementary School building stood.  Its iconic bell tower reminding residents of a simpler time when four rooms were used to educate students.

"Cole school was a landmark, an icon," says John Bertram from Preservation Idaho.  "If you go up and down Fairview today, it was really a major building that set a tone."

After students stopped roaming the halls, the Boise School District decided maintaining the building would not be an option.  The roof leaked and the district was spending thousands of dollars to maintain the structure which was built in 1903.  Despite objections from preservationists like Bertram, the district demolished not just Cole Elementary but Franklin Elementary as well.

Now, seven years later, after both were torn down, all that remain in their place are empty lots.

The lot at Cole and Fairview eventually sold to the Maverik Corporation for more than $2 million.  The Franklin school site was also sold, partly to the same corporation and partly to the City of Boise for a proposed park.  Dan Hollar with the Boise School District says the money raised form both sales is being used for facility improvements and planning.  Maverik is hoping to build convenience stores on both lots, but when that might happen is unclear.

Bertram says many people, including those who went to school under the iconic bell tower at Cole Elementary, feel replacing historic structures with gas stations takes away from the charm of their neighborhoods.  He hopes the new owners will do something to preserve that history.

"That would be an appropriate thing to do, even if it is going to be a convenience store.  To do an interpretive sign on the corner with a photo of the building and incorporate that into the lasting legacy of the community," Bertram says.