The city of Boise is a welcoming community made up of a beautifully diverse population. For years, it has served as a safe harbor for refugees, not only as a destination on their long journey to find asylum, but also as a place to call home. The process of resettling in a new country is difficult and involves culture shock, learning a new language, and redefining your entire life.
The stories of the members of our community that have come here as refugees are important and deserve to be voiced. Whether they can tell their story in English, or with the help of a translator, we are here to listen to their stories in their purest forms.
The History of 1614 W. Jefferson St.
That’s when she realized her grandmother’s place at 1614 W. Jefferson St., now served as the offices of the Agency for New Americans.
“I knew about the agency, but I didn’t make the connection, she said.
Her grandmother, Mary Burns Inglesby had owned and lived in that house when Virginia was a child. It was the home where her grandmother had an “absolutely gorgeous rose garden” outside the side French doors of what is now the agency’s front office and had a fire in the fireplace all the time. It was the home of the grandmother who always referred to her as “Precious”, not Virginia.
The house, located near what is now downtown Boise, was part of a subdivision platted in the early 1900s by Martha McCarty in an area where farmers planted fruit orchards and raised hay for their cows and sheep. In 1920, local builder John Cecil “JC” Jordan built the dwelling at 1614 for $4,000. 1920 Census records show that Clarence and Mary Inglesby moved from Buhl to the house sometime between 1920 and 1923, where Mary lived in the small two-bedroom house for the next 18 years. Mary was Christian Science practitioner who had an office in nearby downtown Boise. Eventually Mary’s mother also shared the home with her daughter until her death. Mary died in 1941, when Virginia was around 4 1/2 years old.
Virginia, who grew up in Boise, had moved away, returning years later. The agency invited Virginia to tour the home on one April afternoon and she immediately asked if the fireplace in the front room was still there.
Most at the agency had no idea that the brick façade in the reception area actually hid a fireplace that had warmed the house in other days.
It had been almost 80 years since Virginia had stepped into her grandmother’s house, but she remembered every detail—except the back room and the basement which could have been built later by new owners.
The day she visited, one of the agency’s newest immigrants was at the agency receiving orientation that every refugee goes through. This time, it was the man who received Virginia’s orange couch.
The orange couch also brought Virginia other gifts from her grandmother. The friend who referred Virginia to ANA called to say that she had found some poetry she had gotten from the Idaho Statehouse, written by Mary Inglesby.
As a parting gift, Virginia gave the agency a photo of the home from past days as well as some old photos to copy of her grandmother and great-grandmother.
“You do such a great job,” she said. “And refugees and immigrants have such a problem right now.”
At Twilight from Table Rock
A poem by Mary Burns Inglesby
Night is unfolding her mantle of blues
And greens shot through with gold
Where the sun's last rays kiss the tree tops tall
Caressingly fold on fold.
Her drapery is spangled with street lights
Stitched in where square meets square
A border of gold and of amethyst gay
Is etched on the foothill stair.
The capital dome is a pendent so bright
On her necklace of jewels rare
Which lies in a circlet down seventh street hill
Where traffic streams steadily fair.
The strong firm arms of her commerce
With her right hand on Platt Garden bower
Is set with a white diamond solitaire
The lights on the depot tower.
In her left hand she holds the airport
Close pressed to her loving heart
While deep in our city's warm bosom of peace
Rests sweet Julia Davis Park.
Her river of thought flows steadily on
On out to the great blue deep
Unmindful of depths or of shallows
Or of cliffs or craggy rock peaks.
For here do her tall peaks all sunlit
Of our Gem State's rough work and her play
Reflect in her people and music and flowers
In her serious moods or when gay.
Now the people and music and flowers are still
Hushed are the day sounds on street and on sod
This is her silent communion hour
Her trysting place with God.
Let us hold in our thought the righ promise
Of our "Light on the Mountain" peaks
And cherish forever the vision of peace
And hear when the purpose speaks.
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