Built in 1900, the “15th and Fort” house on 1421 W. Fort St is a history-rich structure. Although it is currently foreclosed, it has been a large part of Boise’s history for over one hundred years. Built in the neo-craftsman style with hints of prairie flair, the structure is graceful not only in form but also in function. It was a home built not only for function, but also for style, and has seen many renovations over the years.
The home, as stated before, was built in 1900. The early history of the home is shrouded in mystery, but we do know a Mr. Oscar Worthwine began renting the home in 1915. Oscar Worthwine was a head of the local Republican Party at one time as well as a major benefactor to the BSU program.
His relatives took hold of the house during the 1930s. Later, during the 1940’s the family opened up the house to boarders. They enclosed the screened sleeping porches with permanent walls and upgraded many of the interior features. In fact, it is said that during the War a prominent Filipino general stayed there during a tour of the United States. After WWII, the family returned to the home and lived there for several decades. In the present, it has seen modest use both as a residential dwelling and as a business office. Unfortunately there are no ghosts to be told of, except in the basement.
The Fort Street home is built with neo-craftsman style and hints of prairie themes. The asymmetrical front and overhanging rafters with a dormer on the second floor are reminiscent of the early 1900s. The roofline is perhaps one of the most prominent features of the house, being as flat as the broad plains of Kansas. This style, known as Prairie style attempts the mimic the natural formations of the area. This style was pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright, well known for his works in the Midwest.
The craftsman elements of the building give it an unfinished look, adding to the character and style of the building. In the rear there are several wires and strobe lights that have been crudely attached. This reminds us of the unsuitability of modern technology with classical style. On the interior there are two stories with a small basement. The bathrooms are detailed with 1940’s era green tiles, a product of many renovations. The prominent features include a wood paneled floor and steam radiators.
While in foreclosure, the steam radiators burst, flooding the basement. The main attraction of the house is its front room and its prominent dormer. Hinting of bygone days when the area was enclosed by sleeping porch screens instead of wood and glass. The house also has a red tile mosaic on the front porch patio, and still receives mail through its archaic mail-slot.
Boise is an architecture rich city, especially in the downtown/north end areas. Our home, the 15th and Fort Street house is part of a rich architectural history that dates back to the start of the last century. Built in a time of economic growth and development, the home captures a time period when function was equally graced with form. It has received several renovations over the last 110 years, but remains essentially the same structure. Its most prominent time period would be the 1940’s when it served a vital role as part of the war effort when migration turned from East to West as part of the war effort against the Japanese.
The 15th and Fort Street home served its owners well, and continues to offer a favorable and attractive place for the family. Foreclosed during the “great recession” the home has stayed empty for a couple years past its previous owners, the Burgundy home company.
We spent several days admiring the house, but in fact you could spend several years learning its ins and outs, the very complex nature of a very complex time-period. Although the 15th and Fort building is no Idanha, and certainly no Capitol building, it has an architectural place of its own. The craftsman themes and prairie roofline have become engrained in the memories of those who lived in, worked with, and admired this building.