Article by Preservation Idaho
Preservation Idaho has prepared an exhibit on tools utilized to build Fort Boise between 1863 and the 1880s. The tools are living pieces of history that fit within the hand. Hand tools are an extension of the hand and increased human power. These tools reflected the love and care of the craftsmen who used them and added quality to the workmanship.
Immediately following the 1863 selection of the fort site, soldiers and skilled civilian workmen began construction. By the fall of 1864, 19 buildings plus parade grounds were completed. By 1884, the renamed Boise Barracks had grown to include more than 40 buildings. Through 2014 and 2016 Preservation Idaho partnered with the Boise VA Medical Center to restore the 1863 Surgeons Quarters (Building 4).
Tools convert raw materials into building parts. Stonemasons chiseled sandstone blocks to build the fort. Carpenters cut trees with a broad axe to create square sides for floor and attic joists. Craftsman split shingles for roofing and used wood planes to shave floorboards, frames and mantels. Likewise, shaving knives drills and augers shaped and fastened wood.
These old tools often had designs that made them examples of fine art. When you hold an early implement, when you close your hand over a worn wooden handle, you know how it felt to the craftsman whose hand had smoothed it to a rich patina.
After multiple moves, and over a year of hard work, the Eagle Museum of History and Preservation, now housed in St. Matthew’s Catholic chapel, is back open to the public! The chapel was designed by Tourtellotte and Hummel in 1938. The museum is the repository for Eagle's history from the pioneer days, through the founding of the city in 1971, and all the way up to the present day. Located in between Eagle City Hall and the Eagle Public Library, (660 E. Civic Lane) the museum will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm. The exhibit will be viewable until September 1, 2022.
Fred Fritchman designed the exhibit and Todd Hanson’s Design and Fabrication built it. The tools were collected and researched by Rick Poplack, Susan Lowman-Thomas, Frank Eld and John Bertram.