The house on the corner of North 24th St. and Ellis Avenue was designed and built by the founders of a local business here in Boise. The house has gotten major touch ups to make it look the way it is today, which is a Mediterranean style house with art deco influences, including pale green stucco walls, a flat roof, and Spanish clay tiles over the front door.
The back side of the house features a double patio on the second level looking over the backyard. The openings to the patio are half circles and the roof is held up with visible wood overhangs. There are large amounts of interesting detail around the house, including the iron window coverings on the front of the house, the stone lion on the front patio, the awnings held up with iron spears, and the wood detailing over the front windows.
The house was designed by Loys George Peterson and his father, O.E. Peterson. The pair originally wanted a California version of a Mediterranean style home (ideas Loys had gotten from houses he had seen in California and Arizona), but ended up with a more Mediterranean/art deco style.
Mr. Peterson and his father, a finish carpenter from Europe, designed and built the home in 1936, after Loys Peterson moved here from Idaho Falls to expand his motor business, (Gem State Auto). They designed the home, however it is unsure if they put in the manual labor to build the home. But Mr. Peterson and his father did all of the finish work on the home, along with the design.
Interesting designs by the Peterson’s within the home include a staircase that goes from the basement to the top floor that has no center support. The original house was white with black diamond tiles around the windows and black window frames. When the house was being built, they used horses to pull the dirt out to make way for the basement.
Loys Peterson lived in the home with his three children, two boys (both born before they built the home) and a girl (the only child born after the house was built). The house had hardwood floors and well in the backyard. It also had central heating, a two car garage, and Marvin Peterson (son of Loys Peterson, grew up in the house) regarded the house as very modern at the time. Marvin Peterson wasn’t the only one who saw his house as modern, the Idaho Statesmen did as well.
In 1937, the house was said to be “among the newer structures being built along modern lines.” The family participated in Christmas Design competitions put on by the Statesmen. They would decorate two trees and make them visible through the large windows on the south side of the house so people who drove by could see. Today, the trees and shrubbery would block the view of the south side window, but as seen in the original photographs, the windows were visible from the street. The Peterson’s won several awards for their Christmas decor and Marvin Peterson recalls the winning prize being $25.
The Peterson Motor Company was founded by Loys Peterson in 1928. Peterson began his motor business in Idaho Falls where he and his partner opened Gem State Auto in 1922, when Peterson returned home from WWI. During the war, Loys Peterson learned auto mechanics and how to drive and repair the Army’s ambulances.
Eventually Peterson moved to Boise and on February 1, 1928, he opened Peterson Motors on 10th and Bannock, where he sold and serviced Durant vehicles. In 1941, World War II was the talk of town and new automobile production came to a halt. Loys Peterson’s son, Marvin, attending Boise High School at the time, began delivering car parts on his bike for his dad’s dealership. In 1959, Marvin Peterson joined the family business and opened a new Peterson Motors on 12th and Main. Peterson Motors today continues to grow throughout the Treasure Valley.
Betty Feeney moved in about forty years ago after the Peterson’s moved out. Mrs. Feeney was a well-known interior designer in Boise for 30 to 40 years and owned a popular shop in town. She made most of the changes to the house that are visible today in the 1970’s. She converted the garage from the front of the house (where it was originally placed) and turned it into a family room, added the Spanish touches, painted it the pale green seen today, added the coverings over the back patio and extended the dining room. Mrs. Feeney also did a large amount of landscaping to the house, adding shrubbery and gardens, along with the gates that lead to the backyard.
The Peterson house would have been one of the few houses in the North End to feature a garage in the front of the house. The style seen today in many of the suburbs is the garage as the main focus of the house, but for houses built in the early to mid 1900’s in the North End, that wasn’t too common. Most houses seen in the North End have the garage in the back of the house, accessible by an alley way. Mrs. Feeney converted the original two car garage to a part of the house and created a garage in the backyard. The house has changed a great deal from the time it was built in 1936 to now. It started out as an art deco style, very modern for the time, and now is more Mediterranean with older details. This house was and still is a architectural wonder. From the mix of architectural styles such as Mediterranean and art deco along with features such as the staircase without supports, this house is not one you can see on just any street in the North End.