On June 5, 1949, Dr. Joseph Thomas, a Boise physician, took out a building permit to construct a house in the Donald Subdivision. Dr. Thomas and his wife, Virginia, had recently moved to Boise where he opened a medical practice. Even after the building boom of the 1930s, empty lots remained on Kootenai. The subdivision, located on the south side of Kootenai Street at its intersection with Shoshone Street was platted in 1938 by local contractor William Donald. Although the architect of the house is unknown, the Thomases selected a plan that represents the transition between the Minimal Traditional and the burgeoning Ranch.
In the period between the Depression and the end of the World War II, housing styles were in transition. These global events had a moderating effect on the demand for more elaborate styles, which were often viewed as a luxury during those hard times. New houses were designed with floor plans and basic shapes of earlier house style but without the ornamental features. This simplified style is known as the Minimal Traditional. The Ranch was introduced by California architects in the 1930s. Cliff May and others adapted the traditional housing styles of southwest ranches and the Spanish colonial revival style to a suburban house type suitable for middle income families. It combined elements of vernacular houses and typically featured a low-pitched roof with deep eaves and a low horizontal profile. By the late 1940s, this new house type, perceived as modern and unpretentious, caught on across the country. Early examples are sometimes called the Transitional Ranch as they incorporated elements of the Minimal Traditional with elements of the Ranch. Characteristics include a one story house with low-pitched gable or hip roof. This particular brick example includes stone veneer accents and features an original bay window and attached garage, evidence of the popularity of the automobile after WWII.
The house had several modern conveniences of the time including a dumbwaiter to transport food to the basement level; a laundry chute, a pullout table for folding clothes and a built in ironing board. During the 1940s, basement recreation rooms became popular and this house features the original linoleum floor with shuffleboard design. Members of the Thomas family lived in the house until the 1990s.
This home was featured on the 13th Annual Heritage Homes Tour in 2015 thanks to the generosity of the current homeowners the Jileks.