Out of time in a modern subdivision, the house located at 1678 E. Picabo Ct. boasts a much longer history than that of its neighbors. Built in 1953 for the heiress to the Farmers Oil Company, this craftsman/bungalow styled house has many more stories to tell than the surrounding Breckinridge family of houses, all constructed in the mid to late 1990’s.
The house is a strong example of the craftsman/bungalow style.Some of the identifying characteristics of the house that help to categorize it as craftsman/bungalow are seen especially on the exterior. The interior was remodeled in 2008 to mimic the more modern design found commonly inside of suburban homes, but the preservation of the exterior design reflects the style of the 1950’s era. The most obvious connection to the 1950?s would be large picture window in the back of the house, allowing for the uninterrupted view of the backyard to be seen from within the house.
The application of natural earth materials such as wood, glass, and metal, also help to establish this house as being of craftsman style, along with the low-pitched roof line on the characteristic gable. The exposed rafters and the slightly wrap-around front porch created by an extension of the main roof, supported by squared columns, are other elements of the bungalow style that this house firmly exhibits. Also exemplifying the time period from which it was born, the house has a large water well in the middle of the lawn.
The well was the only water supply for many years, as the house was constructed far away from any other established residences. The well extends two hundred and forty feet into the earth, reaching into the depths of the aquifer. Today, the well is still functional as a water supply.This house has a much more far-reaching history than any of its neighbors; a history that its appearance does not seem to allude to at all. Because of the time period in which it was built, along with the fact that it was essentially constructed in the middle of nowhere, the city of Boise does not have blueprints on file for the house.
At the time it was built, the only main roads in the area were Holcomb Road and Boise Avenue, of which the house isn’t located on either one. The original owner of the house, who was an heiress to the Farmers Oil Company, may have designated a street address for the house, but this information has failed to have been preserved. What is known, however, is that the original owner wanted her house away from the city, which seems peculiar as she inherited quite a large company that would have been financially dependent upon those who lived within the city. The next owner of the house was a man named Roland R. Towle. For several years, Towle was the vice president of the First National Bank of Idaho, and he also owned a home off 23rd Street.
Towle’s ownership of the house marks the beginning of its traceable history, as he gave the house an actual address of 1500 Towle Ln. Towle sold two acres of the land that the house sat on to his best friend, but this land was never developed and later resold. The house sits on an acre of land, with the surrounding houses sitting on about a quarter of an acre each. The aluminum mailbox of the house still retains the original address, and is labeled with lettered stickers across the side.
The street was renamed Picabo within the last twenty years, as part of the development of the surrounding Breckinridge subdivision. Today, the house is owned by a retired professional biologist who was a photography columnist for Idaho Wildlife magazine from 1985 to 1998. His photography today focuses on his home state of Idaho, along with surrounding regions, and capturing animals within habitats that display their uniqueness. He is working on a book on the high desert ecoregion of southern Idaho and eastern Oregon including plants, animals, and landscapes. The owner is also working on issues related to the endangered salmon population here in Idaho.
Fitting his environmental and artistic interests, his favorite part of his house is the view of his acre of land, especially helped by the picture window. Historic photo provided by owner.