1609 Harrison Blvd
1609 Harrison Blvd
Boise, Idaho 83702
North End Neighborhood
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This building, while not the biggest or fanciest building on Harrison, has many interesting details. One of the coolest parts about the house is its age. It was built back in 1890, making it one of the older buildings in Boise. However, because of its age, it has been remodeled at least three times, with the most recent remodel being in 2009. The front still remains the same as it was when first built, so from the outside there is almost no change. The house was built in the Regency style. The hipped roof slopes downward on all four sides, and comes to a point in the middle. The façade of the house is symmetrical, which gives the house a more balanced feel. The door has an arched window above it, similar to the door of Whitney Elementary. Its style is similar to the French provincial as well, in that both are symmetrical and have arched doorways. The difference is that the regency is shorter and less steep than the French provincial. Because of its age, the house has been modified many times. While originally built to be used by a single family, in the mid 1900s it had turned into a set of three apartments. There were two apartments upstairs and a common living area in the downstairs with the other apartment. The dividing line between the two upstairs apartments is still visible today, as the upstairs has had less work done on it than the downstairs. The work on the main floor of the building has been extensive. There used to be nine foot tall ceilings, but they were lowered nearly two feet because an air conditioning unit was installed. Because there was air conditioning installed, the fireplace downstairs was removed. In the most recent remodel, many things downstairs were changed. The stairs were moved from the front of the house to the back, allowing a new, fancier bathroom to be put in. Also, the old deck area in the backyard was walled in, and a new deck was added. In fact, the only part of the main floor that was unchanged was one inside wall and the floor in the main room. The hardwood floor has not been changed in any remodels, and it is one of the defining features of the inside. Other than the movement of the stairs, nothing else about the upstairs was changed. Having lived in the house for thirty years, the current owners have many stories about what they have experienced there. Apparently, like other older houses, their house may have a ghost or two. One time, before the remodel, they were sitting in their dining room with some family on Thanksgiving. Everyone was sitting at the table, and their dog was lounging at the foot of the stairs. Then, all of the sudden, everyone at the table heard what sounded like someone running up the stairs and down the upstairs hall. They then heard the upstairs hall window open, and it sounded like someone jumped out of it. Everyone at the table proceeded to go upstairs, and, even though it was a cold November night, they found that the window was, in fact, open. The other ghost story that they told involved a cat that they used to have. One day, the cat was lounging around in the living room while Tony and his friend were in the house. Out of nowhere, they saw the cat get picked up and moved halfway across the room. The cat, having been startled awake, looked extremely scared. When the cat got set down, it ran off and they barely saw it for days afterwards. Ghost stories were not the only stories that the current owner had to tell. Back in the 80’s, a few years after they had bought the house, they met an old lady in a wheelchair who said that she had been a previous resident of the house. She had lived there before it was remodeled in the 1950’s, and it was from her that they learned that the house used to be made up of three apartments, among other things. Also, when they first moved in, the inside walls were pink, and there was no air conditioning system. Six years after they moved in, the owner inherited some money from the death of a relative, and they used the money to buy an air conditioning system for the house, and get a new paint job for the walls. There is also a dirt cellar under the house, and the woman of the house showed how there used to be a set of stairs leading down to it where the kitchen is now, but when they remodeled, they had a secret entrance with a ladder down to the cellar built in under the stairs, disguised by a bookshelf that swung open. This house is on the national register of historical homes. While this means that their house is part of Boise’s history, it also has implications that make the house more difficult to live in. For one thing, if they want to do any remodeling, like in 2009, they must make sure that the front of the house stays unchanged, as well as getting all changes approved by a board of people that work for the register. Also, they must keep the house in good repair, and try to keep the colors of the house fresh and as close to the original as possible. This house fits easily into the time period that it was built. It is on Harrison Boulevard, which is for the most part a richer area of Boise in terms of housing. However, unlike many of the other buildings on the street, it is fairly simple and small, with no multiple rooflines or towers. This suggests that it was built for a family with money, but not excessive amounts of it. If this house were to be put in an area of Boise with newer houses, it would most likely draw the most attention in the neighborhood, but located near houses like the one with lions out in front, it simply exists with lots of history, sheltered mostly from view by the trees out in front of it.
Building submitted by Nick Taylor