Set comfortably far back from the busy boulevard, 1522 Warm Springs Avenue lends elegance and interest to the eclectic collection of other historic homes on its street, while its semi-simple façade still leaves onlookers assured of its welcoming atmosphere. Built in 1925, this home was designed (as many houses were of that decade) with an Italian flare. Wrought iron balconies, arches windows, and the yellow stucco covering of this house lends to a more Mediterranean revival style. Yet the home also contains undeniable characteristics reminiscent of a French Colonial style. Châteauesque features such as the abnormal roofline and dark, decorative shutters suggest a more northern European influence. Especially when it was painted a grayish blue up until 2007, the home, with its flat yet asymmetrical façade seemed as if it could fit into the French countryside as a grand chateau. To further complicate its architectural classification, two chimneys on either side of this home (one no longer in use due to a recent renovation) hint at an almost Georgian style.
Within the walls of this historic mansion, Mediterranean characteristics take precedence though. The tall arched windows, cool Italian tiling, and warm colors add an exotic beauty and surprising coziness to the open interior. Unlike many of the older homes of Boise, this home consists of rather large and spacious rooms, along with tall ceilings. Big windows provide a consistent source of light as well as a refreshing coolness in the home that otherwise would have been stifling due to the absence of air conditioning on the bottom level. This is all possible because of the brilliant use of geothermal heating, unique to Warm Springs houses. The 6,678 square foot house, because of the effective use of these natural resources, is therefore always kept at a pleasant temperature throughout the year (including the swimming pool). The house also contains smaller interests, such as a servant’s staircase, an original bell system, and antique golden light fixtures. The living room, situated on the main floor, in particular contains a gilded mirror placed above the marble mantelpiece that has been in the house since it was first fixed there by the original residents, after being saved from the San Francisco earthquake. But not only did the architectural styles and design of this house lend an unusual amount of charm, but its history as well.
This imaginative mansion was designed in the twenties by the well-known Boise architects Tourtellotte and Hummle, who also planned other historically influential buildings including the Idaho State Capital, the Boise High School main building, and several cathedrals in Boise. The Falk family, who was responsible for several other prominent contributions to Boise architecture and society, were the original owners of the home. The Falks were well known for owning the Falk ID department store, a business that for a long time dominated Idaho shopping. Also, the Falk family, desperate to attract families to their department store downtown (which was at the time an infamous red light district), funded the construction of the Egyptian Theatre, as well as the Mode building.
Years later, the backyard, which at one point extended as far back as Jefferson street and included a carriage home and stable, was bestowed with a trend of the fifties: an Esther Williams swimming pool. These became extremely popular due to the name that they held. Esther Williams was not only an Olympic swimmer, but a beautiful actress as well who endorsed these pools, and her seal is still imprinted on the pavement just outside the pool. Also, another small yet distinctive fact is that 1522 Warm Springs Avenue was the first home in Boise to receive an automatic sprinkling system.
Today, the house is still involved in welcoming fellow Boiseans through its doors. As Halloween approaches, the current owners host a large pumpkin-carving event in which many city members are invited. On Halloween night, these pumpkins, sometimes as many as two hundred, line the winding walkway way and flowerbeds in the front yard. The effect is truly magical and continues the friendly ambiance that has accompanied the house ever since its construction.
1522 Warm Springs Avenue is a tasteful representation of how diverse Boise architecture can be. Its European features lend a certain romance to the already charming street. Its style, both on the exterior and interior, is creative yet sophisticated, mirroring the intelligent designs of its first inhabitants and architects. While its size and beauty could be imposing, the home and its residents have faithfully kept up with the tradition of being incredibly open and gracious. The stunning arched windows, lovely tiling, and open spaces (and not to mention beautiful landscaping) has not only benefitted those lucky enough to live within its walls, but to the city surrounding them. Its unusual architecture and history will undoubtedly continue along side Boise and its progression.