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Sonna House

Sonna House
Building Location 121 E Main St
Boise, Idaho 83702
Downtown Neighborhood
Ada County
Building Status Private
Year Built
Architectural Style Neo-Classical
Architect
Type
Material

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The house on 121 E Main St holds a historical past from the style of the house to the decorations within and that also demonstrates the lives of Idaho citizens in the 1900?s. The house was designed by Peter Sonna, who had also designed the Sonna Building in Boise, he had designed and built it for his two daughters. It is now owned by one of the sister?s granddaughter. The house located on 121 E Main St. is one of a kind and differs from the neighboring houses on structure and style. The house is classified under a Federal style which is directly influenced by Georgian Neoclassical style derived from the architecture of Great Britain in the time of rule of numerous King George. Federal style is similar to the Georgian style but differs because of its plainer surfaces and accented detail. Federal style was consciously used by architects between 1780 and1830s, to promote patriotism after the American Revolutionary War and to associate buildings with the democracies of Greece and republican values of Rome. Peter Sonna used both concrete and soft red brick to design the outside of the house. He also used wood to create add-ons to an original Federal square house. The house has six over six double-hung sash windows that have a keystone that has a splayed lintel on each side that are all located on the 2nd floor. It also has a Palladian window located to the right of the heavy, wooden, and four paneled door. The Palladian window has a brick segmented arch on top. While the other windows are narrow and have a plain stone sill under each one. The roof has decorative cornices with dentil molding for stylistic decorations. The house was finished in 1902 but due to the fire in part of the Assessor?s office, that held the records of this house, the Assessor?s office documented that it was build in 1912. The interior of this house is surprising. From the light fixtures to the furniture the house is covered with history. The house is unique in that the house has two floors that are exactly the same. They each have a master bedroom, a dining room, a living room, a kitchen, and a butler?s pantry. They shared a guest room and a front parlor but other than that they were about the same. The first and second floors are connected between 3 stairways, one in the front of the house, the second is halfway between the house, and the third is in the back of the house. The house also has a basement in which there are 5 rooms in which the maids and butlers would sleep as well as what use to be coal rooms and fruit rooms. The owners now have changed it in to a bedroom and a den as well as storage rooms and an office. The first thing you notice when you walk into the house is the outstanding arch way that leads into the main hallway. The arch was beautifully designed and built so that he looks like you are walking into a straight on mansion. When walking through the hallway, the doors are all different sizes and the archways are of all different designs showing the experimentation of the builders and architects. The Light fixtures are all original and made out of gold painted brass that have unique designs on it. One of the fixtures in one of the bathrooms has, what looks like, an Egyptian Queen that had been carved into it. At the end of this hallway there is a solid wall, at least that is what it looks like until the owner mysteriously banged on the wall to open the hidden door which happened to be their walk in closet. The owners have expanded outside of their master bedroom but in doing so it showed us how thick the walls are of the house. They are 3 bricks wide that would make it impossible to place pipes needed to circulate water and gas later on. So, the pipes are in plain view and are seen in corners of the house and all connect in the basement where it looks like the lower levels of the Titanic. Going through the basement, there are multiple doors that are all different in that, they each have a handmade window that had been made in all different styles. One will have flowers while another looks like stars. Even though the owners have changed the wall paper and added on to the house, nothing as been changed about the original architecture inside. The house represents the lives of Idaho Citizens of the early 1900?s because of its unique style as well as many stories the owner has graciously told. In the house, they had prepared for the extra necessities that we do not use today. While building the house, they had prepared for maids and butler rooms and prepared for things that probably were not necessary like the laundry shoots through the kitchen. Interesting enough, the owner shared that the kitchen always had a back door so that the grocery boy could get in to deliver and put away your groceries. It seems that that still happens today even though we don?t have grocery boys anymore. The coal room and fruit rooms, in the basement, were for the winter and was a needful item in which they would not survive without. The owners have tried very hard to keep the history that has happened in the family since that time. The owner has kept historic newspapers and posters that are examples of her life. She has many Sun Valley and Bogus Basin Ski Resort posters that are very old and shows the excitement of such a place in Idaho. She has Newspaper articles on the End of World War 2, showing the joy of such a war coming to an end. Outside the house and into the garden, it is beautiful and the owner explained that it has been worked on and cared for by her father and Japanese gardeners that her father used to hire. This was before WW2, before the internment of all Japanese in America, and they would come to take out the buds in the late fall and replace them back in the early spring. Another story the owner has shared is the events of her sister in law. Her sister in law was the first women flight attendant in America. But it was no easy thing because, she had to go to medical school and become a nurse before they would allow her to become a flight attendant. She did that and got her uniform and badge, and to this day her uniform hangs up in the Smithsonian. This owner?s husband was a pilot in World War 2 and came back with an award for courage when the war had finally ended. This house really captures the significance of it through style and architecture and also the stories that are behind the house. The many stories show that the significance of this house, whether or not it is seen by the first look, is a part of Idaho and American history. By Kim Miranda and Tolkyn Minnehan

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