Step back in time and tour this lovingly restored historical treasure that sits on the grounds of Riverside Elementary School. The two-story house was built along the Oregon Trail in 1879 by Joseph and Temperance Bown with sandstone from Table Rock. It is one of the oldest stone structures in this area. Listen to our Assistance League and community docents as they instruct wide-eyed fourth grade students and other visitors about life – and survival – in the late 1800s.
The Bown House tour is part of Boise School District’s 4th grade curriculum on Idaho history. Each year, approximately 2500 students enjoy a two hour tour and participate in hands-on activities reflecting life and times in the late 1800s. Our costumed volunteers guide the children in experiencing the strictness of the schoolroom, churning butter and making biscuits, dressing up in period clothing, quilting a square, playing pioneer games, choosing which crops to plant and learning about survival on the Oregon Trail.
There are six rooms, each with its own unique activity, which engage children in fun and memorable ways: the kitchen, school room and parlor on the first floor and the farm room, geography room and history newsroom on the second floor. Groups of six to ten students move from room to room and spend about twenty minutes in each room. Students leave with a better appreciation and understanding of how difficult life was for Idaho’s early pioneers.
School tours are scheduled on week days from October through May.