Art Troutner was a prestigious architect in Boise, and he built this house, 1008 S. Johnson. Troutner originally built the house in 1949. He also constructed about 12 other houses around the same time. This home was built for Helen Copple Williamson, the original owner, who knew Troutner. The current owners are the third family of owners of the home, after Jane and Patrick Daly, and then their daughter, Cindy Daly.
The house has not always stayed as it was built in 1949 though, as there was an addition in 1962 to enlarge the existing bedrooms and add a second bathroom, and another addition done in 1975 that included a larger living room, a storage room, and an additional bedroom. The house went from being shaped like an “L” to being closer to a “C”, which provides a courtyard that is accessible on three sides. The house has a very modern feel, and the owners have worked hard to preserve this with their furniture and accessories around the home. Since both of them are architects, this home took a special place in their hearts. Troutner homes tend to do this, and all touch-ups or add-ons have been made with the original design in mind. In fact, owning a Troutner home is extremely wonderful now days because his homes are extremely unique and only a few were made during his life. These homes have a very distinct feel to them. In their time they were new and stylish, and while they are still in fashion they now have a more retro feel to them. However, this house has a very livable feel to it even though it is very “cool” and modern.
The house features many elements made from wood, concrete block, brick, stone and even cork, and steel. This gives the house an eclectic feel, although it is classified as a modern/contemporary home for its time period. Troutner used the materials in unique ways to create interesting aspects within the home. Troutner worked to make his homes feel at one with nature, and this idea is very prevalent throughout this house. The materials used are all natural and don’t give off an unnatural or too “polished” aura. Wood and concrete (floor) are the main building materials that stand out, and the structure of the house is exposed wood beams and columns. Troutner was thoughtful with his window placement, locating high windows that fade into the tongue and groove wood ceiling, allowing for plenty of natural light and views of the large pine trees along the side of the house. The original windows are a combination of fixed, single pane picture windows and operable steel awning windows.
When one walks into the house, they see to the left a cute, galley style kitchen that has been updated. Through the kitchen area is a dining room that is extremely in touch with its 50’s style feel. With a narrow style concrete block as one wall and wood siding covering the other it is perfectly connected with a polished concrete floor. In this home, the fireplace was the main focus, as an attempt to draw the whole living room and kitchen area together into one single spot.
The fire place is constructed of local stone that is visible on all sides and has a raised hearth. Troutner even designed a unique copper hood that extends into the living room, over the stone hearth. The hallway that leads to the rest of the house is extremely narrow, but covered with lovely rich colored wood ceiling which sends a red glow throughout. All of the wood used is the original cedar siding.
The work space that the home owners use for their architectural studio was originally two separate children’s bedrooms that at one time had an accordion type door attached to an exposed steel beam in between the two rooms. Opening up the two rooms worked well for when the kids wanted a shared play area. The accordion door is long gone, but when the floor was torn up it was discovered that there were cork tiles that had been covered up. The current owners have restored the cork tiles. The cork floors are unique because they are a smaller tile size than what is available today. It is now a fascinating point of interest because one does not see many cork floors anymore.
Exposed wood beams and columns that have been painted and a wood tongue and groove ceiling are used throughout. Narrow concrete block was used in combination with vertical cedar siding on both the interior and exterior walls. The addition to the back is an all glass wall with an overhanging roof. One more aspect about the home is a few of the operable windows are actually filled with a yellow tinted plexiglas material vs. clear glass, either high up on a wall or at floor level. These add, once again, a point of interest to an otherwise ordinary wall or floor line.
Unfortunately, there are no original plans for the house that can be found. This is not the only home done by Troutner in the Bench area, as there are several more. Troutner’s interest in the area was caused by the fact that it was the second area of development in the city, and was available for construction during post-war.
This home is also incredibly significant because of the fact that Art Troutner was to Boise as Frank Lloyd Wright was to the rest of the U.S. Wright’s influence spanned far and wide, and Troutner was most likely influenced by Wright. This influence is shown through the contemporary and “at one with nature” theme that is prevalent in both Wright and Troutner’s works. This house is very obviously a quintessential Troutner home with a little Wright influence seeping in as well. Overhanging roofs can be attributed to Wright, but the slanted roof shape and mix of materials is clearly our own Troutner at his finest.
This mod home is not to be missed; although the exterior does have a modest front it lives up to Troutner’s great name once anyone sets foot in this fabulous home.
Source: Cathy Sewell and Jessica Rodriguez