A History of St. Michael's Cathedral
in Boise, Idaho

This linear history includes some pre-parish history to help the reader understand of how isolated Boise, Idaho was in the 1800s. Throughout this document, some regional and diocesan history is included to help provide a perspective on the development of St. Michael's Cathedral and the Episcopal Church in the Mountain West. Please enjoy learning some historical facts about St. Michael's Cathedral, the Episcopal Church in Boise and Idaho, and how St. Michael's got to where it is today.

If you are not interested in the initial early 1800s background history, just click on: Jump to the beginning of the parish in 1864".

Early History and Isolation of the Boise Valley

1811 – 1812 - The first significant group of white men to pass through the Boise River valley, were a group of men financed by John Jacob Aster. The group, under the command of Wilson Price Hunt, were to bring supplies overland to Astor's new trading post in Astoria, Oregon. They were to travel overland, south of the Lewis and Clark route, to avoid the central Idaho mountains that had nearly thwarted Lewis and Clark. When they hit a westerly flowing river, they would float down to the trading post near the mouth of the Columbia River. They soon learned the trip wouldn’t be that simple. After crossing the continental divide, they didn’t reach the westerly flowing upper Snake River in eastern Idaho until fall. Thinking they had finally reached the easy part of their journey; they began floating the river.

The float went reasonably well for the first 100 miles or so until they reached the unnavigable Snake River canyon and waterfalls of south-central Idaho. At that point they realized the hard part was far from over. They cached many of their trading supplies and began traveling overland to what is now Boise and the Boise River valley, where they tried to re-float the Snake River into what is known today as Hells Canyon. Finally realizing floating Hells Canyon was futile, they returned to the Boise River valley to spend the winter of 1811-1812 with a group of Native Americans. The next spring, they cached most of their remaining trading supplies, and took a Native American trail overland to the Columbia River, floating the rest of the way to Astoria. When they finally arrived in Astoria, they had few of their trading supplies and had lost a number of their party. Much of the route they followed across southern Idaho and Oregon would become part of the route for the Oregon Trail.

1813-1814 – Fur Trapper John Reid, working with the Pacific Fur Company explored the Boise River area and attempted to form a trading post, call “Fort Reid” at the mouth of the river as it enters the Snake River. With troubles from Native Americans, the post was soon abandoned.

1818-1819 - Explorer and map maker, David Thompson, named the river, the Reid River, after John Reid. About the same time Donald Mackenzie, an original member of the Astoria party and representing the North West Company, tried to re-establish Fort Reid, but again, because of Native American problems, it was abandoned.

1833 – In the summer of 1832 a group of men under the leadership of Captain Benjamin Bonneville, left St. Louis to explore and map the northwest. This trip, like the earlier Astoria party, was sponsored by John Jacob Astor and his American Fur Company. After the party uncomfortably crossed the dry treeless southern Idaho desert in the late spring of 1833, they were excited to see the cottonwood trees along the Boise River. One of the Canadian mountain men guides reportedly called out “le bois,” the French word for “the woods.” Thus, the story of where the Boise River and the city got their names. Likely Captain Bonneville’s maps, with the political influence of Astor’s fur trading company, beat out the Reid River name, and solidified the Boise River name.

1834 – Thomas McKay of the Hudson Bay Company made a third attempt at setting up a trading post at the mouth of the now Boise River and called it Fort Boise. It was an attempt to compete with Fort Hall, run by a rival fur company, some 300 miles to the east along what would become the Oregon Trail. Some of the trappers operating the fort were from Hawaii. The Owyhee Mountains, just to the south are said to have gotten their name from a misspelling of Hawaii. After functioning for twenty years, the continuing problems from Native Americans and annual spring river flooding, the fort was abandoned in 1854.

1841 - The first major groups of pioneers headed out over the route that was the Oregon Trail. The travelers typically reached the Boise area in late summer after traveling across the hot, dry, and dusty southern Idaho desert. Like Captain Bonneville’s Canadian guide, the Oregon Trail travelers would have likely seen the Boise River valley as an oasis.

July 24, 1847 - Brigham Young and the Mormons arrived in Utah, and within a few short years expand into southeastern Idaho. They had limited impact to the Boise area until well into the 1900s.

The Episcopal Church Arrives in the Northwest

December 1, 1847 - The first recorded service using the American Book of Common Prayer in the Pacific Northwest was a baptism in Oregon City, conducted by The Rev. St. Michael Fackler. At that time, the Episcopal Church had no formal governing structure in the Pacific Northwest. The Rev. Fackler considered himself without jurisdiction, and was not engaged in active church work.

1854 – The General Convention, the governing body of the Episcopal Church, began forming a missionary strategy for the northwest after a request from a group in Oregon. The General Convention, formed the Missionary District of Oregon from the Oregon and Washington Territories, that included the area of Idaho. The new missionary district was put under the supervision of The Rt. Rev. Thomas Fielding Scott.

1859 – Oregon became a state and the General Convention moved the area of Idaho, then in the Washington Territory, into the newly formed Missionary District of the Northwest with The Rt. Rev. Joseph Cruickshank Talbot as its bishop. This new, effectively unmanageable, missionary district was headquartered in eastern Nebraska, over 1200 miles east of Boise with an area that today covers 10 states.

1862- 1863 – Gold was found in the upper Boise River Basin and Owyhee Mountains of southern Idaho (Boise sits roughly midway between the two major mining towns of Idaho City and Silver City). In 1863, after many requests for army troops to help with Native American issues along the Oregon Trail, the U.S. Army opened a barracks in Boise, and christened it Fort Boise. Other than name, the new military fort had nothing to do with the older trading post that had been located at the mouth of the Boise River. With its more moderate climate, access to irrigation water along the Boise River, location along the Oregon Trail, and the addition of a new U.S. Army barracks, the Boise community provided a central business and agriculture location for the two mining communities.

March 4, 1863 – Idaho became an independent territory after separation from the Washington Territory, and Lewiston in northern Idaho became the territorial capital.

July 7, 1863 – With a population of over 1500 persons, Boise City was formally founded.

The Episcopal Church Arrives in Boise

St. Michael Fackler

August 7, 1864 – The first Episcopal service was conducted in Boise by The Rev. St. Michael Fackler. The Rev. Fackler was invited to come to Boise from Oregon and asked to stay in Boise. He said he would only stay if a church was built. Parishioners raised $1,500 in gold or the equivalence of $2500 in U.S. government greenbacks to build the church. Because of the ongoing Civil War, the value of greenbacks to gold was at an all-time low in 1864. After raising the money, parishioners constructed a church building at the corner of 7th and Bannock, and, named it the “Boise Episcopal Church.”

December 24, 1864 – Boise City became the capital of the Idaho Territory after Boise Basin and Owyhee County mining interests politically manipulated the capital away from Lewiston.

1865 – The General Convention was now beginning to struggle with the rapidly changing west. The Idaho Territory is briefly moved into the Missionary District of Colorado, but that changed again in only one short year.

September 2, 1866 – The Boise Episcopal Church was officially opened by The Rev. Fackler. It was the only Episcopal church building in the mountain west. Much of the new church had been pre-manufactured back east, and shipped around Cape Horn, and then transported overland from California.

October, 1866 – The Rev. St. Michael Fackler, having been in the distant northwest for so many years, made plans to visit his family back east. He traveled to California to sail home. Among the passengers who took note of the diligent priest was one Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. After the passengers crossed the Isthmus of Panama in October, cholera broke out aboard ship. Twain recorded the devastation and how Fr. Fackler cared for the sick until he, became ill, and subsequently died on January 6,1867, and was buried in Key West, Florida.

The Episcopal Church Finally Takes
Western Missionary Work Seriously

October 4, 1866 – The General Convention in a special session, created the Missionary District of Montana, including Idaho and Utah. The new Missionary district was placed under the jurisdiction of a newly-consecrated bishop, The Rt. Rev. Daniel Sylvester Tuttle. Bishop Tuttle was actually delayed in traveling to his missionary district until he was old enough to be consecrated on May 1, 1867, since General Convention rules required a bishop to be at least 30 years old.

A few months before his consecration, Bishop Tuttle received a letter from The Rt. Rev. George Randall, the bishop of the Missionary District of Colorado. Idaho had been in Bishop Randall's jurisdiction prior to the formation of the Missionary District of Montana. Bishop Randall informed Bishop Tuttle of the death of The Rev. Fackler and the need of his prompt replacement. Bishop Randall also gave him advice on how to work with the Mormons in Utah, and recommended he bring as many clergy with him as he could recruit, but didn't recommend clergy with families.

July 2, 1867 - The newly consecrated, Bishop Tuttle arrived in Salt Lake City, the largest city in his new missionary district. Salt Lake City would eventually become the bishop’s seat, the home of the first Episcopal Cathedral in the region, and the first non-Mormon church in Utah. Initially Bishop Tuttle setup his office in Virginia City, Montana, since the original request for a new missionary district had come from there.

Bishop Tuttle recruited four close clergy friends and family to be his initial missionary team. Bishop Tuttle received a letter from an Episcopalian in Salt Lake City, informing him a number of denominations were planning to begin missionary work in Utah during the summer of 1867. The first non-Mormon denomination into the valley would likely attract most of the small number of non-Mormon parishioners. Since Bishop Tuttle couldn't travel to Utah until he was consecrated, he sent half his missionary team, his brother-in-law, The Rev. George W. Foote and a freshly ordained deacon, The Rev. T. W. Haskins, ahead in March to begin establishing the first non-Mormon church in Salt Lake City.

After his consecration, Bishop Tuttle left his wife and young son in New York, and along with The Rev. E. N. Goddard, and a second brother-in-law, The Rev. George D. B. Miller, plus The Rev. Foote’s wife and teenage sister, he headed for Salt Lake City. Having just left his new bride in New York, The Rev. Miller at one point considered returning to New York, after the party was delayed in Nebraska, because of problems with Native Americans. While waiting in Nebraska, Bishop Tuttle and The Rev. Goddard purchased rifles for additional safety. With his rifle in hand and wearing a cartridge belt, Bishop Tuttle would at times ride shotgun with the stagecoach driver for the remainder of the trip to Salt Lake City. Besides not looking like a bishop in the church, Bishop Tuttle reported his only excitement from the experience was dealing with a nasty sunburn.

Together, this group of four young clergy and their newly minted bishop, all greenhorns from New York State, were starting a whole new adventure as missionaries in the west. The Rev. Miller would replace The Rev. Fackler, as the rector for the Boise Episcopal Church. Bishop Tuttle began his new work as a missionary bishop by meeting with Brigham Young to develop a somewhat cordial working relationship with the Mormon church in Utah. Leaving The Rev. Haskins and The Rev. Foote in Salt Lake with his wife and sister, Bishop Tuttle and The Rev. Goddard travelled to Montana. The Rev. Miller continued on to Boise. After beginning an initial evaluation of missionary work in Utah and Montana, Bishop Tuttle traveled to Boise and met with The Rev. Miller to begin his evaluation of missionary work in Idaho.

August 29, 1867 – At The Rev. Miller’s first vestry meeting, the Boise Episcopal Church was renamed “St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church” in the memory of The Rev. St. Michael Fackler. The change in rector must have been a bit of a shock to the parishioners of St. Michael’s, going from a seasoned westerner like The Rev. Fackler to The Rev. Miller, a very green young priest from New York. The isolation of Boise in the late 19th century, and perhaps low pay, might have been hard on clergy, for over the next twenty-five years St. Michael’s Church had nine different rectors.

October 12, 1867 - Bishop Tuttle made his first visit to Boise to see the only church building in his new missionary district. This was the first visit by any Episcopal Church bishop to Boise. Bishop Scott from Oregon visited with The Rev. Fackler in Idaho City a few years earlier, but became ill and was unable to complete his trip to Boise. Bishop Tuttle in one of his early letters, wrote about this first visit to see the only church building in his new district, “St. Michael’s is quite church-like. The singing and responses are hearty and good. I was pleased on Sunday, I felt more as if I were in church than I had since I left Denver. At the morning service I confirmed five.”

During his five weeks stay in Boise, Bishop Tuttle and The Rev. Miller began exploring missionary potential in Idaho by making trips to Silver City and Idaho City. The trip to Idaho City was uneventful, but on the Silver City trip they encountered two travelers who had been attacked by Native Americans the day before, with several of their traveling companions having been killed. Because of the potential for violence on the road, Bishop Tuttle often carried a pistol with him when traveling.

With missionary plans for Boise, Bishop Tuttle acquired a block of land at the corner of 1st and Idaho Streets. In 1867 this land was available through a claims process. By fencing the land and paying the taxes anyone could claim the property. Bishop Tuttle paid $325.88 to fence the property.

November 4, 1867 – St. Michael’s Parish School was started with 15 students. It was the first school in Boise. With Bishop Tuttle’s stay in Boise, he helped the vestry and The Rev. Miller hire the new school teacher, a Miss Adaline Gillespie. The only negative comment about her was she could not sing, and would be of little help with the choir.

However, Bishop Tuttle was unhappy the vestry was only paying the Rev. Miller about one-fourth of the salary of the new teacher. Apparently, The Rev. Fackler had not been receiving a formal salary, and the precedence of not paying concerned Bishop Tuttle. There was a rumor in Boise, that the Army barracks was to receive a chaplain and The Rev. Miller was afraid the vestry would contract services with the new chaplain and quite paying for a full-time priest. The barracks never received a protestant chaplain.

Before Bishop Tuttle left to spend his first winter in the new missionary district in Montana, he encouraged the vestry to give The Rev. Miller a 60% salary raise from $500 to $800 per year, and to pay it on a monthly basis. The Rev. Miller had paid $600 for a rectory. Bishop Tuttle had contributed $125 toward the rectory and he ask the vestry to reimburse the remaining $475 back to The Rev. Miller.

The Rev. Miller and his wife, Mary had been married by Bishop Tuttle in New York just before he had left for Idaho (Mrs. Miller was the younger sister of Bishop Tuttle’s wife). The 20-year-old Mrs. Miller had decided to go by ship from New York to Idaho. Traveling by herself, she arrived in late November after sailing from New York to San Francisco, by way of the Isthmus of Panama. From California she had taken a train part way, and then a six-day stage ride to Boise. Her arrival provided a big boost for The Rev. Miller’s morale and his effectiveness as St Michael’s rector.

Mrs. Miller may have been a bit disappointed when she first got to Boise. The small three-room rectory was nothing more than a wood frame structure with fabric tacked to the inside of the uninsulated walls. The building heating and cooking stove had no brick chimney, just a stove pipe stuck through the roof. Mrs. Miller quickly began fixing up the rectory with improvements and added wallpaper to make it a home.

To add to The Rev, Miller’s challenges during his first year in Boise, was the new school teacher, Miss Gillespie, married a church vestryman and resigned as the school teacher. The vestryman and The Rev. Miller had gone to San Francisco to do her interview, and after she was hired, St. Michael’s paid her travel and moving costs. The vestryman did take some friendly teasing over the situation, and the parish learned to add a clause to a teacher's contract which required payback of moving costs, if the teacher did not stay a specified minimum time. The vestryman was James Reynolds, the first publisher of The Idaho Statesman newspaper.

1867-1869 – Bishop Tuttle spent his first winter in Virginia City, Montana. He finally moved out of an expensive unheated rented room into a small log cabin. After fixing it up, he didn’t save any money, but did get some privacy. Bishop Tuttle liked Montana, but he felt very lonely during that first winter in his missionary district, and he acquired a pet cat as a companion. He started a church which met in available vacant buildings around town. One of his largest concerns, other than his depressive loneliness, was the fact most of his vestry members were heavy drinkers and swore too much.

During the summer of 1868, he was elected the Bishop of Missouri, but he turned it down, because he felt he was too young and inexperienced. However, the next time the offer was made it would be different. In the fall of 1868, he went back to New York to attend General Convention. Then he, his wife, her mother, and his son returned to Montana, but this time to Helena, where he spent his second winter. Unlike the previous lonely winter, he now had his family with him and he was no longer a greenhorn. He wanted to build a church in Helena, but property was nearly impossible to obtain in the rapidly growing mining town. He found an abandoned, half-built Methodist church building. By paying off the liens and buying it at a sheriff’s auction, he was able to build the first Episcopal church in Montana. Bishop Tuttle also became somewhat of a folk hero that winter by helping to fight a major fire in Helena which had threatened the whole town.

Now with some experience under his belt and additional clergy support arriving in the district, he contemplated, where to make his permanent location. After considering Helena and Boise, he selected Salt Lake City as his permanent location and began to build a cathedral for the missionary district. He liked Boise and Helena better than Salt Lake, because he knew dealing with the Mormons in Utah would be difficult. In fact, the Mormons were already making things difficult by resisting to sell him property for churches. However, Salt Lake was the largest city in the region and the central transportation hub of the region, so Salt Lake City prevailed.

May 10, 1869 – The first transcontinental railroad was completed in northern Utah. This pretty much ended emigrant traffic on the Oregon Trail through Boise.

August 9, 1869 – A new $500 Mason and Hamlin organ is dedicated at St. Michael's Church.

September 1869 – The Rev. Henry L. Foote was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Tuttle at St. Michael’s. Deacon Foote, a brother of Mrs. Miller, arrived in the summer of 1869 with his wife to assist The Rev. Miller with parish, school, and missionary work to the surrounding mining communities. Over the next couple of years, he was a major support to St. Michael’s parish, especially during the following summer of 1870, when The Rev. Miller and his wife were on leave visiting family in New York. Unfortunately, The Rev. Foote began his new ministry in Boise under a cloud. His wife died of heart failure only a few weeks after his ordination.

February 27, 1870 – A new church bell, weighing 439 pounds, was installed at St. Michael’s Church. It was the first church bell to ring in the Boise valley.

1870 – This was a big year for St. Michael’s Church. On May 30th, The Rev. and Mrs. Miller left to visit family in New York and to raise money for an expansion to St. Michael’s Church. The Rev. Foote was in charge of the parish until they returned on October 3rd. Bishop Tuttle visited Boise in early August and stayed until the Millers returned. He traveled to Silver City and Idaho City, helped The Rev. Foote with local services, and helped teach in the parish school. St. Michael’s school had nearly 60 students being taught inside the nave of the church.

During his stay, Bishop Tuttle lived in the rectory with The Rev. Foote. Bishop Tuttle hired a local young woman to cook for the two of them, but it got a bit messy in the rectory with just the two men living there. In their spare time they improved the rectory. They dug a cellar for Mrs. Miller, maintained her garden, and installed some new wallpaper within the rectory. Around $700 of improvements were made to the rectory over the summer.

The Rev. Miller returned with donations of $2500 for St. Michael’s Church including $240 for school scholarships. The parish used some of the donated money, and money raised by the parish to build a new wing to the church for the school. The new wing had foldable doors, and the space was also used for overflow crowds during services. The construction included a recessed chancel area and an expanded bell tower at a total cost of $2100. The new wing was dedicated on Christmas of 1870. The following two pictures show how St. Michael’s Church looked after the expansion.

When The Rev. and Mrs. Miller left to go on a vacation in 1870, Bishop Tuttle would not give them permission to go until they promised to stay at least two more years in Boise. The Millers wanted to do foreign missionary work, but Bishop Tuttle wanted them to continue the great work they had been doing in Boise. Under The Rev. Miller, St. Michael’s school began evolving into the Boise public school system, and The Rev. Miller became the first school superintendent in Boise. Under The Rev. Miller’s watch, St. Michael’s parish had grown in size, and the parish and vestry became far more fiscally responsible. In 1872 the Millers left Boise to do foreign missionary work in Japan. 

January 8, 1871 – A stone baptismal font was dedicated at St. Michael’s. It was purchased for $75 in New York by St. Michael’s children. The final cost with shipping and installation was $212.

September 25, 1876 – Interior remodeling was completed, and stained-glass windows installed in the church.

July 28, 1878 – A new organ was obtained for the church. The organ was shipped around Cape Horn to California and brought overland to Boise.

1887 – By the late 1880s, regional railroads had reached Boise. Until that time, getting to and from Boise had been difficult, but even then, it wasn't until the mid-1920s Boise acquired regular reliable rail passenger service. Today, passenger rail service is no longer available in Boise. In 1916 the Federal-Aid Road Act was passed, and Idaho began seriously paving and developing US Highway 30 across southern Idaho, closely following the old Oregon Trail route. Finally, Boise was accessible by paved roads. In the 1960s the route was upgraded to the Interstate highways which are used today.

Prior to that, the only access to and from Boise was by horse power. Because of this primitive transportation, Bishop Tuttle was not particularly fond of travel to southern Idaho, and said so on numerous occasions. In one of his early letters about his first stage coach trip to Boise, he wrote, “Of all the uncomfortable routes I have ever traveled over, that from Salt Lake to Boise is the worst.” In his book Missionary of the Mountain West, he wrote about this trip, "I arrived at Boise, Saturday afternoon, October 12th, with broken neck, bruised head, aching bones, sore throat and disturbed temper."

Today, it is hard to understand how difficult it was to access the isolated Boise River Valley before modern travel. Today an automobile trip between Salt Lake City and Boise takes just under five hours, or a flight takes about an hour and 15 minutes. A typical overland trip from Salt Lake City to Boise City in the late 1800s took a minimum of four days in good weather and much longer in bad. Stage coaches had little or no suspension, so riders would feel every bump of the rocky dirt road. Bishop Tuttle reported having the stage turn over onto its side on several occasions. On one turnover, he accidentally kicked a fellow passenger in the head, and on one late night run across eastern Idaho he lost his favorite hat.

The road from Salt Lake City followed up into eastern Idaho and then along much of the Oregon Trail route across southern Idaho to Boise City. Bishop Tuttle reported his first trip to Boise of 400 miles, cost $120. Covering 100 miles per day in a stage coach for four consecutive days over the rough lava covered trail across southern Idaho, must have been nearly unbearable for the traveler, and Bishop Tuttle seemed to agree.

1881 – Montana was spun off as a separate missionary district, and the Missionary District of Utah was formed from Utah and Idaho. Bishop Tuttle remained the missionary bishop for the remaining Missionary District of Utah. Without Montana to worry about, Bishop Tuttle finally began traveling to northern Idaho and he made his first missionary visit to Lewiston.

May 26, 1886 – Bishop Tuttle was elected as Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri for a second time, and left Utah and Idaho for Missouri. In his 19 years as a missionary bishop, Bishop Tuttle opened 49 new mission churches within Idaho alone. In fact, Idaho and Montana were his most productive areas for his missionary work. His success in Montana helped it spin off as a separate missionary district. The Mormons continuously gave him problems in Utah, so Idaho saw some of his bigger successes in his later years as a missionary bishop. The property he acquired in Boise helped to provide the building blocks for much of the church growth in Boise during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

The Most Rev. Daniel S. Tuttle died April 17, 1923 in St. Louis at the age of 86. A truly beloved bishop in the church, he served as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1903 until his death. Over his 56 years as a bishop, he helped consecrate 89 new bishops within the church.

1886 – General Convention formed the “Missionary District of Idaho and Wyoming” to include all of Idaho and Wyoming. The Rt. Rev. Ethelbert Talbot became the missionary district bishop and selected Laramie, Wyoming as his headquarters and the home of the district’s new cathedral.

1889 - St. Michael’s parish built a new rectory at the corner of 2nd and Idaho Streets on the district property previously acquired by Bishop Tuttle. St. Michael’s agreed to sell the building back to the district when it was needed by the district. The original rectory, purchased by The Rev. G.D.B. Miller at the corner of 5th and Idaho Streets, was sold.

July 3, 1890 - Idaho became a state, and Boise became the state capital.

1892 – With support from Bishop Talbot and St. Michael’s Church, St. Margaret’s Girls School was opened in Boise in a new building at 1st and Idaho Streets, next door to St. Michael’s rectory. This property was more of the development property, originally acquired by Bishop Tuttle. St. Margaret’s housed girls from secondary school to high school, with a few college-level courses added in the 1920s.

St. Michael's Begins the Twentieth Century as a Cathedral

July 29, 1896 – Anticipating the approval by General Convention of the district change, St. Michael’s Church closed on the property on 8th Street between State and Washington Streets. The property was purchased from Captain DeLamar for $5000 with a bank mortgage of $3000. The vacant lots had been an apple orchard.

1898 – General Convention reorganized western missionary districts and formed the “The Missionary District of Boise,” separating the eastern half of Wyoming out as a separate missionary district and splitting northern Idaho off into the Missionary District of Spokane. Boise became the district headquarters and bishop’s seat. A new cathedral was to be built in Boise and St. Michael’s parish became the cathedral parish. The Rt. Rev. James B. Funsten became the new district’s bishop.

September 7, 1899 – Construction of the cathedral, and rectory began. The cathedral was constructed at the corner of 8th and State Streets of sandstone from the local Table Rock quarry. The rectory was built on the other end of the property at the corner of 8th and Washington Streets. General Convention required the local community and missionary district to pay for the new cathedral construction. St. Michael’s Women’s Auxiliary was the driving force for raising the $25,000 needed for its construction.

1899 –The ten-year-old St. Michael’s rectory was remodeled and became the new Bishop’s House for the home of Bishop Funsten and his family.

While the Bishop Funsten's new home was being remodeled, he went back to Virginia to pick up his family and while there, he acquired three bricks from the first Anglican church built in North America at Jamestown. One of those bricks ended up in the foundation of St. Michael’s Cathedral, the other in the remodeled rectory that would serve as his home until he died in 1918. The third brick would end up in the cathedral parish hall a few years later.

May 25, 1902 – Bishop Funsten and The Very Rev. Charles Deuel consecrated St. Michael’s Cathedral. An overflow crowd of over 500 people attended the consecration. The original St. Michael’s Church building is renamed “Christ Chapel” and moved from the corner of 7th and Bannock Streets to the corner of 15th and Ridenbaugh Streets and was all but forgotten.

December 8, 1902 – Bishop Funsten dedicated a new six bed hospital in a converted house one block north of St. Margaret’s school at 1st and Bannock Streets. St. Michael’s volunteers provided major support to the hospital and nursing school operations. Today, St. Luke’s hospital is the largest regional medical system in the State of Idaho. Today St. Luke’s is no longer part of the Episcopal Church, but the bishop of the Diocese of Idaho still serves on the hospital board of directors. St. Michael’s parishioners provided much of the volunteer support to the hospital through most of the 20th century, and many are still actively supporting the hospital today.

1902 – Although some irrigation canals had been built on the Boise River in the late 1800s, the Reclamation Act of 1902 provided federal funding to help with additional irrigation and to provide flood control. In the spring the snow melt runoff would often flood the valley, and in the late summer the low river flow usually made it difficult to provide adequate water for irrigation. A major plan had been proposed in 1877 to develop this water system, but no funding was available. The Reclamation Act helped to build the largest diversion project along the Boise River. That project was completed in 1909 and over the next 45 years, three dams were built on the upper Boise River system that today provide irrigation and flood control for Boise and all of the Boise River valley.

1903 – The missionary district started a school for nursing program at St. Margaret's School to help support St. Luke's Hospital. The women of St. Michael's supported St. Luke's Hospital, and the nursing school by making bandages.

1907 – General Convention reorganized the western missionary districts again. “The Missionary District of Idaho” is formed, by adding northern Idaho back into the district. Bishop Funsten remained as the bishop of the district.

May 1, 1907 – The cornerstone was placed on the new cathedral parish hall. Construction had started in February on the portion of the cathedral property next to the rectory, and behind the cathedral. The cornerstone ceremony was a big event on this rainy May Day. The new parish hall would be called, The Bishop Tuttle House, and Bishop Tutttle had come from St. Louis for the ceremony. Among the items placed in the corner stone were a copy of the sermon Bishop Tuttle had preached that day, an Idaho Statesman newspaper, and the third brick from the Jamestown Church.

December 3, 1907 – A large painting of “St. Michael and the Dragon” was given to the cathedral by Mrs. William Morris. The painting was based on a painting by 15th century artist Guido Reni. Mr. Morris was an early pioneer of Boise and helped develop the early canal irrigation system in Boise with his nephew W. H. Ridenbaugh. Morris Hill cemetary in Boise is named for Mr. Morris. The painting has been a controversy over the years, because some parishioners find the picture overly violent. The painting presently is located in the east transept of the cathedral.

February 25, 1908 – The Bishop Tuttle House was dedicated and opened for use.

April 20, 1919 – The Tiffany Windows (by Louis C Tiffany), now located in the east transept were donated by Mary J. Taylor Boomer in memory of her husband Alexander Boomer and her children. Mr. Boomer had been a major owner and manager of stage lines across southern Idaho in the late 1800s. The windows were dedicated on Easter Sunday 1919.

1919 – Boise Music Week was started by organist Eugene Farner. This was the first non-commercial music festival in the country and continues today.

1920’s – The Cathedral undercroft was finished with a choir room and 10 classrooms.

1921 – The Women’s Auxiliary organized St. Luke’s Ball, raising thousands of dollars for the hospital.

1921 – St. Michael’s parishioners supported the building of a mission at Fort Hall in eastern Idaho for the Native Americans.

1923 - 1927 – In the early 1920’s, with the support of The Very Rev. Paul Roberts, St. Michael’s operated experimental radio station KFDD. Broadcasting services on Sundays from 11 am to 12:30 pm and 7:30 pm to 9:15 pm. St. Michael’s was likely the first Idaho church to broadcast live religious services. However, by 1928, radio became more regulated, Dean Roberts left for Denver, and St. Michael’s experiment with radio was over.

September 6, 1932 – St. Margaret’s School became St. Margaret's Hall. To make the school more solvent during the national depression, it became co-ed, and was renamed Boise Junior College. Missionary district Bishop Middleton S. Barnwell spent much of the summer of 1932 writing new curriculum, recruiting faculty, and building benches for the science lab for the new Boise Junior College. The missionary district ran Boise Junior College for the next two years before it was spun off as an independent community college. Today, the successor to that school is Boise State University.

1935 – The Missionary district of Idaho acquired property on Payette Lake for a summer church camp. Because the camp could only be reached by boat, it initially got little use. Within the next few years additional land was acquired that allowed road access, and the camp began to flourish. The camp christened “Paradise Point” was and is today a favorite summer time spot for many members and the bishop of the diocese. St. Michael’s parishioners took an active part in developing the camp site, building the first permanent structures at the camp, and continue to be heavily involved with the camp today. In the Summer of 1939, portions of the movie “Northwest Passage” were filmed on the camp property, and summer campers got to experience that event.  In one scene of the movie, you can clearly see the islands shown in the above picture.

1936 – Because of the difficulty in traveling between northern and southern Idaho, General Convention reorganized the western missionary districts again. “The Missionary District of Idaho” was reduced in size by moving northern Idaho back into the Missionary District of Spokane. This was the last change to the district boundary, except for a minor change in 1997.

1945 – A special service was held at St. Michael's to dedicate the Rose Window. The Apse, Resurrection and Rose windows were the work of Charles J. Connick of Boston, Massachusetts.

1949 – Following the original unfinished design for the cathedral made by architect Henry Martyn Congdon, St. Michael's tower was completed. It was called the Memorial Peace Tower in memory of those who lost their lives in World Wars I and II.

1960 – The cathedral altar was moved away from the wall to permit clergy to stand behind it and face the congregation.

1961 – The Kimball organ was removed from the sanctuary and a new Schlicker organ and seating for the choir added to a loft at the back of the cathedral.

1961 – Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of St. Michael’s held an annual rummage sale for years and the idea of expanding it into a full-time thrift shop was proposed. With the support of The Very Rev. William Spofford, and some space in a St. Luke's Hospital building on 1st street, the St. Michael's Thrift Shop was opened in February of 1962. However, within six months St. Luke's needed the building space back and the ECW began work looking for an alternative location. After some checking, an old cinder block garage, thought to be part of the next-door GAR property, was found to be part of the cathedral property. After cleaning out the building and doing some upgrades, a new St. Michael's Thrift Shop was opened on January 15, 1963. Over the years there has been one small expansion, but the building still functions as the cathedral thrift shop today.

1963 – Christ Chapel was moved from 15th and Ridenbaugh Streets to Broadway Ave., just south of the Boise River, on the then Boise Junior College campus, where it resides today. In 1959 the all but forgotten Christ Chapel was in disrepair and in threat of being torn down. A group of St. Michael’s parishioners and friends formed a group to raise money to move and put it on the historical registry. Today, Christ Chapel is managed by a non-profit with many Episcopalians as members, and is used for special services and an occasional wedding.

1964 – The parish celebrated the centennial of St. Michael’s, as the first Episcopal Church in Idaho.

1967 – General Convention upgraded the Missionary District of Idaho to The Diocese of Idaho. Then bishop, The Rt. Rev. Norman L. Foote transitioned from a missionary bishop to a diocesan bishop.

Typically, the status of diocese was given to a missionary district that has become financially self-sufficient. In this case, the General Convention gave the 14 remaining missionary districts within The Episcopal Church, the status of diocese so they had the right to elect their own bishops, since missionary district bishops were appointed by the General Convention. However, most of these new dioceses remained financially dependent on the General Convention for a number of years. The Diocese of Idaho remained dependent on General Convention funding assistance for the next 30 years.  Finally becoming a fully financially independent diocese in the late 1990s.

Late 1960s – In the mid to late 1960s, St. Michael’s Cathedral and other campus buildings were showing their age. After the choir area upgrade inside the cathedral in 1961, the vestry began to look at other space upgrades to the campus.

Additional work within the cathedral included an expansion of the choir practice room in the undercroft with a new outside access door. St. Margaret’s Chapel on the northwest corner of the cathedral was partitioned off for additional sacristy space and a robing area for the clergy.

The basement of Bishop Tuttle House was remodeled with new classrooms and the parish hall kitchen was moved from the basement to the main floor. The new kitchen took up the space of the event stage on the east end of the Tuttle House, and the fireside room on the west end of the Tuttle House was remodeled.

An old apartment building located to the east of the Tuttle House was demolished for a parking lot. In 1970, the old rectory building located at 8th and Washington St. was demolished and a new Funsten House building was built to house the parish library, staff offices, and some clasrooms.

1975 – With an expansion of St. Luke’s Hospital, the Bishop’s House was to be torn down. Much like what happened with Christ Chapel, a group of St. Michael’s parishioners and others raised the money to have the house moved from 1st and Bannock Streets to Old Penitentiary Road in east Boise. Today, the Bishop's House is managed by a non-profit with many Episcopalians as members, and is used as a center for weddings, parties and receptions.

1976 – Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of St. Michael’s began Lenten Lunches on Fridays during Lent. This has become a major cathedral fund raiser and public event each Friday in Lent. Clam chowder and other soups are served along with pies made at the cathedral. This is popular with downtown business personnel, state employees, and even state legislators.

1976 – Money was raised to add the East Transept to the cathedral. St. Michael’s Cathedral was listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

1978 – St. Michael's began a sack lunch program to help feed the homeless in Boise.

1984 – Hired the first full-time children’s director to support the Sunday School and other children’s programs for the cathedral.

1984 - A major upgrade was made to the sound system in the cathedral along with the addition of wireless microphones.

1980s – St. Michael’s started “Fat Goose Camp” as a family weekend camp at Paradise Point Episcopal Church Camp in McCall. As part of the first camp, an adult study group was formed under the direction of Alice Dieter and Wylla Barsness. The group talked about Kierkeraard’s Parable of the Geese. From that topic, Wylla suggested the name for the camp as “Fat Goose Camp” and the name stuck. Fat Goose Camp is still an annual event of St. Michael’s parish, and is typically held on the first weekend in August.

1980s-2013 – “The Search for Understanding Class” was formed as an adult Sunday morning Study Group. It was formed by Les and Alice Dieter from Les’ interest in the relation of science and theology. This popular class ran for nearly 30 years under Alice’s direction. When Alice was no longer able to facilitate the class, it was hard to provide a regular facilitator and the class ended in 2013. The class typically had attendance of 10 to 20 people nearly every Sunday.

1987 – The steeple was added to the Memorial Peace Tower.

1992 – The columbarium was dedicated.

1992 – Began “Cathedral Night” dinners on Wednesday nights with the help of Deacon Mary Lou Weiner. The weekly event was a dinner and an hour program(s) for families. Initially successful, and gradually lost favor, until there was an increased emphasis on the quality of the meals.

Today Cathedral Night is one of St. Michael’s most successful parish programs. Over the last 30 years it has evolved into a major weekly family event for the parish with visitors always welcome. This two-hour Wednesday evening program consists of a one-hour family style diner followed by a one-hour educational program. The success of Cathedral Night has been its focus on good food, fellowship, and education. The family style meal is planned and overseen by a professional chef with assistance from parishioners. During the dinner, parishioners visit with old friends or meet new ones. Following the dinner, separate programs are provided for children, youth and adults. The children and youth programs are under the direction of the parish’s professional children’s and youth staff. The adult programs typically consist of one or two different program options each week, depending on parishioners’ interests. Adult programs are primarily religious in nature, but can be secular. Instruction is provided by St. Michael’s professional clergy or other professionals from within or outside the parish. Meal costs are covered by the parish and subsidized with good faith offerings from the diners.

1994 – “Wings of Eagles Fund” was chartered by the vestry for the purpose of receiving offerings for repair, renovation, maintenance and construction of the buildings and grounds of the parish. A significant upgrade was made to the undercroft of the cathedral. A new wide rear staircase replaced the old narrow circular staircase from the undercroft to the sacristy. Also, new modern restrooms were added to the cathedral undercroft, and some undercroft classrooms were upgraded.  To meet fire code requirements of the upgrade, a fire sprinkler system was added to the undercroft.

1996 – Began “Second Saturday” luncheon on the second Saturday of each month. This monthly event is a luncheon for retired and folks over 55. It is a time for the older parishioners to gather and socialize over a meal.

1997 - At the request of the Dioceses of Idaho and Wyoming, the General Convention moved a small area of Wyoming into the Diocese of Idaho. A new parish was formed in Alta, Wyoming by the Diocese of Idaho with only road access from Idaho, and it was geographically isolated from the rest of Wyoming. So how did the Diocese of Idaho end up with a parish in Wyoming? It was by sheer chance. In the 1990s, the Diocese of Idaho had a mission development program in the Teton Valley in far eastern Idaho. Then bishop, The Rt. Rev. John Thornton, was looking to build a new mission church in Driggs, Idaho. In a passing discussion with a Mormon Church leader, it was mentioned they had an old Mormon ward building, with a spectacular view of the Teton Mountains, for sale in Alta, Wyoming, only five miles from Driggs. Because the building was very near the Grand Targhee ski area, it seemed an interested buyer was considering turning the ward building into a tavern. Mormon Church leaders and past ward parishioners were dismayed about that proposal, and to prevent it, they offered it to the Diocese of Idaho for a low sale price with free five-year financing.

2001 – St. Michael’s purchased the GAR Hall, located next door to the cathedral. This building completed the cathedral campus as it exists today. It provides office space for cathedral staff, and presently the University of Idaho is renting the 2nd floor for its Boise administration offices. The GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) building was built in 1892 as a memorial meeting hall for the Union Army veterans of the Civil War.

2002 – The parish celebrated the centennial of St. Michael’s Cathedral. Watch Online Centennial Historical Video

2003 – “BabySteps” was started by Diane Demarest. It is a long-term education-based incentive program for limited-income pregnant and/or parenting mothers. The program promotes healthy pregnancies, babies, and families.

2004 – The parish hired its first full-time youth director to the cathedral staff.

2004 – The Ten Commandments Monument was moved to cathedral grounds. This monument was in a city park, and the city was concerned about the separation of church and state. St. Michael’s agreed to take the monument and display it in an open area at the front of the church.

2005-2006 – The “Faithful Promise" financial campaign was conducted to primarily fund major improvements and renovations to the Bishop Tuttle House. In addition, a handicap accessible restroom was added to the main floor of the cathedral, and some minor updates were made to the Bishop Funsten House. The Bishop Tuttle House upgrade, included a complete basement remodel with new handicap accessible restrooms, new improved class rooms, a total building electrical upgrade, a new HVAC system, and the addition of an elevator for handicap accessibility to the building. To meet fire code requirements, a new fire alarm system was also added to the Tuttle House.

2006-2019 – In hopes of increasing facility resources for outreach, the parish purchased the old Carnegie Library building across the street from the cathedral. Unfortunately, the dream of expanding St. Michael’s outreach through the facility did not work out as hoped and the financial liabilities exceeded the benefit. A special fund-raising campaign, “Faithful to our Heritage” was conducted in 2007 to help supplement the funds. However, in 2019 the building was sold and profits were put back into St. Michael’s facilities and program budgets.

2009 – “Come to the Banquet” was started by then Canon Lucas Grubbs. It is a sit down, white tableclothed, silver and flowers once a month luncheon for people who are needy, homeless or otherwise food deprived. Members of the parish help cater and serve the meals.

2014 – St. Michael’s Choir spent part of the summer in England in Westchester Choir residency.
Watch Part 1 of Westchester Choir Residency Trip
Watch Part 2 of Westchester Choir Residency Trip

2014 – Faith Community Nursing program was started by a group of nurses from St. Michael's parish. Using a grant from the Idaho Episcopal Foundation as seed money, a health outreach program was developed to provide health and spiritual education, and monitoring for parishioners and the local community.

2014 – Some work had been done on the basement of Funsten House in 2005 from the “Faithful Promise" campaign. Limited funds prevented the youth area from being completed. With help from parishioners, the youth recreation room upgrades were finally completed.

2017 - A new upgrade was made to the sound system in the cathedral and additional audio-visual equipment was added.

2020 - 2021 – With the closing of in-place services from the Covid -19 pandemic, parishioner Pete Hecht and the cathedral staff have provided weekly recorded video and audio online services for the parish. With the cathedral shut for the pandemic, major deferred maintenance was completed. The Tuttle Hall and cathedral buildings were re-roofed, the pews and cathedral floors were refinished or replaced, and new protective covers were put over the stain glass windows. To get more details and pictures of the work completed on the cathedral, go to the parish website Historic Renovations Projects page. Also, studies were done on potential heating and ventilation upgrades for the cathedral, upgrading of Information technology tools, and improving building security systems.

Further information on how St. Michael's handed the Covid-19 pandemic can be found on this website at the Covid-19 Page.


The Rev. St. Michael Fackler . . . . . 1864-1866
The Rev. George D.B. Miller. . . . . . 1867-1872
The Rev. Henry L. Foote (Assoc). . . . 1869-1871
The Rev. James P.Lytton. . . . . . . . 1872-1875
The Rev. William Bollard . . . . . . . 1875-1880
The Rev. Israel T. Osborn. . . . . . . 1881-1882
The Rev. G.H. Davis. . . . . . . . . . 1882-1888
The Rev. George Tucker . . . . . . . . 1888-1889
The Rev. David C. Pattee . . . . . . . 1889-1892
The Rev. J.W.C. Gallaudett . . . . . . 1892-1893
The Rev. Charles E. Deuel. . . . . . . 1893-1902


The Very Rev. Charles E. Deuel . . . . 1902-1904
The Very Rev. E.S. Hinks . . . . . . . 1904-1908
The Very Rev. Everett P. Smith . . . . 1909-1915
The Very Rev. Alward Chamberlaine. . . 1915-1921
The Very Rev. Paul Roberts . . . . . . 1921-1928
The Very Rev. Frank A. Rhea. . . . . . 1928-1942
The Very Rev. Calvin Barkow. . . . . . 1942-1945
The Very Rev. Herald Gardner . . . . . 1945-1952
The Very Rev. Howard Rudisill. . . . . 1952
The Very Rev. Marcus B. Hitchcock. . . 1952-1960
The Very Rev. William B. Spofford, Jr. 1960-1969
The Very Rev. George Ross. . . . . . . 1969-1973
The Very Rev. Robert Browne. . . . . . 1973-1979
The Very Rev. Martin J. Dwyer. . . . . 1979-1988
The Very Rev. Donald D. Cole . . . . . 1989-1997
The Very Rev. Lynn White (Interim) . . 1997-1998
The Very Rev. Richard A. Demarest. . . 1998-2019
The Very Rev. Jesse Vaughan (Interim). 2020-2021

(Bishops were appointed by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church)

(Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, and a small
part of Wyoming - Headquartered in Oregon City, Oregon)

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Fielding Scott . . 1854-1859

(10 mountain west and midwestern states including Idaho - Headquartered in Nebraska, City, Nebraska)

The Rt. Rev. Joseph Cruickshank Talbot.1860-1865 (He had jurisdiction over Idaho, but was never in Idaho)

(Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho - Headquartered in Denver)

The Rt. Rev. George Maxwell Randall . .1865-1866 (He had jurisdiction over Idaho, but was never in Idaho)

(Included Utah, Idaho and Montana – Cathedral, St. Mark’s in Salt Lake, 1871)

The Rt. Rev. Daniel S. Tuttle. . . . . 1866-1880

(All of Utah and Idaho – Cathedral, St. Mark’s in Salt Lake)

The Rt. Rev. Daniel S. Tuttle. . . . . 1881-1886

(All of Idaho and Wyoming – Cathedral in Laramie - 1896)

The Rt. Rev. Ethelbert Talbot. . . . . 1886-1898

(South Idaho and West Wyoming - North Idaho is moved to the Missionary District of Spokane - Cathedral St. Michael’s in Boise, 1902)

The Rt. Rev. James B. Funsten. . . . . 1898-1907

(All of Idaho, Northern Idaho added back to the Missionary District of Idaho – Cathedral, St. Michael’s in Boise)

The Rt. Rev. James B. Funsten. . . . . 1907-1918
The Rt. Rev. Herman Page . . . . . . . 1919
The Rt. Rev. Frank H. Touret . . . . . 1919-1924
The Rt. Rev. H.H.H. Fox (Acting) . . . 1925-1926
The Rt. Rev. Middleton S. Barnwell . . 1926-1935

(Southern Idaho only , Northern Idaho again moved to the Missionary District of Spokane -Cathedral, St. Michael’s in Boise)

The Rt. Rev. Frederick B. Bartlett . . 1936-1941
The Rt. Rev. Frank A. Rhea . . . . . . 1942-1957
The Rt. Rev. Norman L. Foote. . . . . .1957-1967

(Bishops are elected from the members of the Diocese)

DIOCESE OF IDAHO - 1967-1997
(No change in boundaries, Changed status from Missionary District to Diocese - Cathedral, St. Michael’s in Boise)

The Rt. Rev. Norman L. Foote . . . . . 1967-1971
The Rt. Rev. Hanford L. King . . . . . 1971-1981
The Rt. Rev. David B. Birney . . . . . 1982-1989
The Rt. Rev. John S. Thornton. . . . . 1990-1997

(added a very small part of Wyoming to include the parish in Alta, Wyoming - Cathedral, St. Michael’s in Boise)

The Rt. Rev. John S. Thornton. . . . . 1997-1998
The Rt. Rev. Harry B. Bainbridge III . 1998-2008
The Rt. Rev. Brian J. Thom . . . . . . 2008-Today

Collect for Transition

Almighty God, you have called us, as you called those who came before us, into lively and holy ministry in this Cathedral parish, to be your light in this corner of the world: in this time of change, send, we pray, your Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us, to help us discover who we are, and what we may become; as we prepare for a new shepherd of your flock, a minister in your house, grant us patience, discernment, and grace in all our uncertainties, and bless our search for one to lead us as the church you call us to be, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Link to St. Michael's Main Website