The Boise Plaza at the 1100 block of Jefferson was built in 1971, but the history of the first owner of the building, Boise Cascade, dates back to the early 1900s.The predecessor to Boise Cascade, the Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company was organized in early 1903. The company’s principal office was located on the Noble Block at 10th and Main Streets and became a substantial presence in Boise. According to a Statesman article from January 30, 1903, the promoters of the company were among the largest lumber operators in the United States. Upon their arrival the large lumber company began to affect the landscape around Boise. For example, the placement of mills led to the construction of a road between Horseshoe Bend and Boise in the early 1900s.
The company changed its name in 1914 with the merger and purchase of The Barber Lumber Company. The Barber Lumber company had established the town of Baberton, located in south Boise near the present day Marianne Williams Park. The merger was a product of legal troubles. According to historian Brandi Burns, “The Barber Lumber Company faced some major challenges in its early years, including accusations of timber fraud in 1906-1907,” and these problems led to litigation which in turn led to the eventual merger between Barber Lumber Company and Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company.
Barber Mill (ISHS-2360)
Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company, however, also faced legal problems in the early 1900s. In 1907, Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company faced a fraud lawsuit, with negotiations and litigation lasting several years. In 1912, the company lost substantially in the case against plaintiff Mollie Conklin when the company was found guilty of conducting a deceptive business transaction.
By 1914, with the purchase of the Barber Lumber Company, Payette Lumber & Manufacturing Company became Boise-Payette Lumber Company. This merger spurred optimism throughout the city, and according to a Statesman article from January 1, 1914 “the last doubt was removed as to the future of Boise as a center of commerce and industry.” Also, in the 1910s, Boise- Payette Lumber Company employed many women in their box manufacturing factory at Barberton. Women used saws and wood printing equipment to make the boxes, and earned decent wages for women at the time. Under new ownership, the mill and company town of Barberton thrived until the 1930s. In 1934 Boise- Payette Lumber abandoned their claims to the Barber mill and transferred their employees to Emmett.
In 1957 Boise-Payette Lumber Company merged with Cascade Lumber Company and by 1971 they had moved into their new headquarters at 1111 W. Jefferson. The impressive structure was designed by the internationally renowned architect firm of Skimore, Owings, & Merrill, founded in 1936. The firm also designed the Hancock and Willis (former Sears Tower) in Chicago. Besides their work in Chicago the firm is known for the Alcoa Building (1964) in San Francisco and the Business Men’s Assurance Company of America (1963) in Kansas City, Missouri. The building was remodeled in 2006 after ownership shifted to Rafanelli and Nahas. It was also in 2006 that the building became known as Boise Plaza.
Boise Plaza circa 1974
 Boise City Department of Arts & History, Remnants of Boise, (2013) 118.