In the 1900s, Boise was a bustling city, increasing in population from 5,957 in 1900 to 17,358 in 1910. But with urban growth came an increase in urban issues, one of which was the plight of poor orphaned children wandering the city streets begging for money and stealing food. O.P. Christian was greatly concerned about the welfare of these children. In 1908, Christian combined forces with like-minded city leaders C.W. Moore (founder of the Boise Artesian Hot & Cold Water Company) and Governor Frank R. Gooding to form The Children’s Home Society of Idaho. In 1910, they built The Children’s Home at 740 Warm Springs Avenue on land donated by school teacher and philanthropist Cynthia A. Mann. The cost of the project was $42,700. The first floor of the building was comprised of offices, living apartments, a kitchen, and dining room. Dorm rooms for girls and boys, a nursery, hospital room, and operating rooms filled the second floor, including one room that could only be accessed from outside which was used for isolating children with infectious diseases. The attic held a row of beds along each wall, and the basement housed the laundry facilities. Capacity was 100 orphans, and the home was often full throughout its operating years.
In the 1950s and 60s, orphanages started becoming obsolete due to the lack of individual attention the children endured and the establishment of the foster care system. In 1968, the last child was adopted out of The Children’s Home and it ceased operation as an orphanage. In 1970, much to the chagrin of the neighbors, the building was used to house delinquent teenage boys. Then, in 1975, the Children’s Home Society worked with Boise State University to determine the most outstanding needs in the community. Their discussions resulted in the decision to use the home as a children’s counseling center that would serve the public whether they could pay for such services or not. Today, the counseling center helps over 3,000 children annually to work through family conflict, bullying, trauma, abuse, grief, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, and foster care placement.
The building was completely remodeled in 1997 to include counseling offices, a conference room, an observation room, a library, and administrative offices. The attic and the exterior were left in their original condition as a tribute to its early history. The Children’s Home is on the National Register of Historic Places.