Warm Springs Avenue is known for its beautiful and diverse houses. Among them sits the Forney House, a simple but elegant, Federal style home. It was constructed between 1919 and 1921, and represents a Federal architectural style. This house can be characterized as such by the dark green shutters that outline the sides of the windows on the front of the house, the gabled entryway with thin columns, and the side gabled roof with two brick chimneys on opposite sides. The Forney house today still has the original geothermal heating in place, and continues to use this original heating system.
The Forney house has an attic that takes up the space right underneath the roof the attic has two original swinging shutters that make small windows, giving the attic some natural light. Inside, the house has a spiral staircase that accentuates the curved arch style in the house. There is an archway that connects the front entryway to the kitchen dining area as well, and is just another of the many features that demonstrates the federal style as well as a hint of roman style which is a major contrast to the strict federal style. This house is very demonstrative of the Federal style with the “Butlers staircase” leading from the landing to the Kitchen, a feature that was common among these colonial and federal homes. The copper plating on the front door and screen, and copper mail holder are other accents that add to the antique formal style.
1615 Warm Springs Avenue has been the home of many important Idahoans ever since its construction. It was first purchased by Harry H. Bryant in 1921. Harry H. Bryant was brother of Clara Bryant and brother-in-law to Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company.
In fact, Harry Bryant moved here to start a Ford dealership in Boise. His three kids were raised in the house and his family lived there until 1935. To this day, at the end of the yard stands a miniature look-alike playhouse built for the Bryant children.
It once even had running water and was wired for electricity. C. Benjamin Ross, Governor of Idaho from 1931 to 1937, rented the house from the Bryants in 1936. He was the first native-born Idaho Governor and first to win election as Governor of Idaho three times in a row. He is known as being the chief supporter of President Franklin’s New Deal in Idaho.
The same year he rented the house, he ran for Senate in 1936 but lost to Republican William E. Borah. The following year the house was leased to Judge James Ailshie and his family who lived there until 1940. The Roy C. Davidsons rented it in 1941, and then the Hinshaw family bought the house from the Bryants the following year. Ezra B. Hinshaw was president of C. C. Anderson Company at the time. In 1954, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Forney purchased the house and lived there until just recently. At an open house, Mrs. Cooper took a look and just fell in love with home and knew she had to have it. The Coopers are the present owners and plan to live there at least until their two children move out of the house. Mrs. Cooper appreciates that the house has relatively been left unchanged throughout the years. And whatever few changes were made, they were kept up with the style of the house. The kitchen and the pantry have been remodeled and the Coopers recently and beautifully redid the master bedroom bathroom. As Mrs. Cooper remarked, every inch of the house seemed to be covered in wallpaper. When stripping some of the wallpaper down, she has seen the original wallpaper that was put up when the house was first built.
Though they have been working on taking that down, she will keep the original wallpaper in the front entrance of the house. The Coopers are making minor changes but plan on following the same style of the house. The original crystal lighting fixtures are still in use in the living room. Other crystal fixtures light the dining room and sunroom.
The house has four bedrooms and two baths upstairs and a finished basement. Also there is a spacious attic filled with things past owners have left. For example the Coopers found a campaign poster for a Forney child’s eighth grade presidential campaign. Coincidentally, Mrs. Cooper’s son just won eighth grade president! Mrs. Cooper’s daughter, five years old, enjoys the kept up playhouse in the back yard. Neighbors have told some interesting stories about the Forney house, such as the previous owner who supposedly had a homeless man mow the lawn for him in return for free living quarters in the playhouse that is about 5 and 1/2 feet high.The lovely family home will continue to be enjoyed by the Coopers and future owners and to be a beautiful example of Boise’s architecture. We would also like to thank Charla Cooper for taking the time to show us and talk to us about the house!