n 1951, Mark Smith built the 306 North Mobley Drive residential home as one of the first houses on the block. Mark Smith, a Mormon dentist, built this house for him, his wife, and his four children. Mark Smith saw a home in the Home and Garden Magazine that inspired this Mid-Century Modern Ranch House to be built. This kind of architecture was popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s in America. A wood overhanging, a simple flat roof, open space, and expansive window walls are common characteristics of this style of house. This home highlights all of these characteristics and is located on a quarter acre land lot in Boise’s East End.
While this house was built over half a decade ago it still posses many of its original features. A window, hand cut by Mark Smith, located in between the living room and hallway stills remains today. The window is both decorative and functional as it allows light to pass from the living room into the hallway. A chandelier located in the dining room was part of the original light fixtures. The dining room also contains the original built-in cabinet that Mark Smith built to hold the fine china. The fireplace composed of thin rectangular bricks, common in this era, is also an original feature in the home. In the downstairs, the walls are lined with wood paneling and cabinets that were once covered in the political stickers of Nixon and Johnson. The red fence that encloses the backyard is also an original piece of the house. The controversy of the fence is that it is seven feet tall, while nowadays the Boise City Code requires all fences to be no taller than six feet. While the sitting booth, located in the kitchen, has been reupholstered, it still exemplifies the “diner theme” style of the 1950’s.
Although this house has preserved many of it’s original features, some aspects of the home have been changed to better function in modern times. The washer and dryer, previously located in the kitchen, have conveniently been moved to the basement. The one car garage that was built by Mark Smith was too narrow to accommodate the growing size of modern cars. The owners after Mark Smith, not only widened the garage, but also expanded it further by adding a second garage door. The original structure of the house was not insulated and the warm water was strictly geothermal. The Smith family directly used the geothermal water for everyday uses. The next family who owned this property changed the piping through the addition of a heat exchanger. This process uses the heat from the geothermal pipes to warm up the water in the newly added piping system.
As well as changes made for functionality; the owners gave the home a personality of its own. While this house was built in a time of conformity, the Mark Smith family soon made changes to the house that made it stand out from the rest. The outside combed cedar shake siding was painted barn red with lime green trimming. On the inside, Mark Smith put up silk Asian motif wallpaper in the hallways and chicken wallpaper in the kitchen. Although these do not remain today, they were a unique addition to the house’s character until the 21st century.
This house is one of the few original midcentury modern ranch homes left in the Boise East End Historic District. Owners, past and present, have managed to preserve the important features and architectural characteristics of this home and plan to do so in the future.