The humble abode of 210 W State St was built by the Tourtellotte and Company in 1904 for Daniel Caswell. The Tourtellotte and Company also designed several key historic buildings in Boise (such as Boise High, Carnegie Library, Idaho State House, etc). The Caswell’s only lived in this residency for a mere 3 years. In 1907 this beautiful Queen Anne style home was sold from Caswell to the Laidlaw family, who were originally from Ketchum, Idaho.
This gorgeous image of a house catches the eye just from a first glance. The intricate works of the Queen Anne style is clearly shown in both the interior and exterior of the house. Even though many of the original architectural designs are still in present in the house, it has been remodeled several times throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and later when it was converted to a commercial building.
The first remodeling included the addition of a fireplace as well as a small half porch in the back of the house. But even through these remodels, it still exhibits the classic Queen Anne style that was an architectural trademark though the late 19th and early 20th Century. On the front of the house, one of the first things that catches ones eye is the turret placed directly above the porch and front door. The coned roof line on the finialed turret is topped with an ornamental brass piece which adds to the Victorian revivalist style of Queen Anne.
Even though Queen Anne homes tend to include more ‘brass’ additions around the house, we soon realized that many of the shining brass pieces were removed in the remodeling of the home throughout the decades. Another key feature in the front is the half porch below the turret. Its base is an intricate Boise sand stone blocks, that go half way up the houses exterior. This lower floor of sand stone encases the lower floor bay window just to the right of the porch. The sand stone work also holds in the front door on the porch, which is just another example of the beautiful Queen Anne style since they tended to include stonework as a doorframe.
Supporting the turret and the overhanging porch roof are exquisitely preserved white Tuscan columns, which pulls the two different style floors together. On the upper floor, surrounding the large arched windows are interwoven pieces of scale-like shingles above the curve of the window. But even above the scale like shingles is yet another set of shingles, still fish scale looking, just a different style. On the left side of the house is yet another set of bay windows, also surrounded by sand stone blocks, overlooking the side yard. In the back of the house, some aspects of the house seem a bit out of place.
There is another half porch, which does not fit the Queen Anne style. There are supports that hold up the overhanging roof above the porch, completely portraying a different style compared to the rest of the exterior. Just across the ‘backyard’ is a carriage house. It is the originally carriage house, built with the house in 1904. It doesn’t really show any Queen Anne stylistic qualities, since, you know, it’s a carriage house. Sort of like a garage, there wasn’t a lot of intricacy put into the style, and it looks industrially simple compared to the rest of the house.
The interior of the house has been heavily remodeled, especially in the 1990s, when it was converted from a residential home to a commercial establishment. But some aspects were kept from the original style. For example in the entry way, on the staircase just to the left of the door includes the original banister, with balusters (or more commonly referred to as stair sticks, but that sounds ridiculous). The main floor displays a lot of the machined woodwork of the industrial age, which can be found around the doorways, shelves, and windows. Sadly, a lot of the original brass work was most likely removed during the countless remodeling jobs.
The upstairs, which was originally a set of bedrooms, has now tragically converted to office space. Most of the walls were knocked down to make room for a set of cubicles. The back staircase still has all of the original woodwork (there is not picture of the back staircase since there was poor lighting). This all renders the house historical significant, with both the fabulous architecture, but also it is one of the many prime examples of historic early 20th century housing. It is also one of the few examples of late Victorian revival, with a Boise twist. It features several aspects of historical qualities such as the Tuscan columns mentioned before hand, and also small testaments to era’s past such as a carriage block that still rests alongside State Street. It was surveyed several times in the 1978 and 1997 to be considered a historical house by the State. In the survey reports they considered it important to the community for reasons such as education on Boise’s past and the architectural significance.
In the 1978 survey it shows that the structure was owned by “multiple owners” both a residential and “professional offices”, which gives it a rather unique multi-use history. This was also the survey that got the house historical status with the state (citation: United States Department of the Interior). In 1997 it was fully converted to a fully commercial house owned by David and Gail E Brown. Also in the 1997 survey they considered the building important in contributing to a new historic district in Boise (citation: The Idaho Sites Inventory 1997). This year (2014) marks the 110th anniversary of the Daniel Caswell House.
Now back into the history of the residents, the original owner David Caswell built on the property in 1904. Caswell was a prominent paint store owner in the Boise area. An important event that took place in their time of residency included the funeral service of Mrs. Caswell’s brother C.E. Philips. But this couple only lived here for 3 years, leaving little room for historical opportunity in this household. Later in 1907, the property was bought from Caswell by the Laidlaw family for a whopping $8500 which would be over $200,000 in today’s money. Mr. James Laidlaw played a prominent role in sheep herding in Idaho and in the Wood River Valley throughout the early 20th century.
Mrs. James Laidlaw was also very active in the St. Michael’s community, hosting major Bible Study events throughout the 20’s and 30’s. Their son, Sandy, was a student enrolled at Boise High in the late 20’s, and was the manager of Boise High’s district winning Basketball team. He later became a student at the U of I. There is not much historical information after the Laidlaw residents. The Laidlaw’s split their time between both Boise and Muldoon, Idaho (which is now a mining ghost town). (citation: Idaho Statesman Historical Archives). From then on there is not much information on the Laidlaw’s and the home until 1978 with the land survey. In between the home was slowly converted into a commercial and residential home.
The historical archives have shown no evidence of a tragic damage such as a fire, and the quality of the house (judged by the surveyors) was either consider excellent or good in terms of preservation. But even with half of the interior gutted out for cubicles, this house is a joy to be seen. It might sound a bit cliché, but 210 W State Street gives Boise-ans and everyday look into Boise’s intriguing past, even if you drive by it and just give it a second glance.