Constructed in 1946, the Howard and Jeanne Marcellus House easily establishes itself as an impressive feature of the Crescent Rim Historic Neighborhood. Its location as a part of the First Boise Bench atop the Boise River offers stunning views of the downtown as well as direct access to the landmark Union Pacific railroad depot, all while affording the serenity of a residential space. Expansion of the Idaho Central Railway Company in 1887 spurred such settlement of the bench’s rim, more commonly referred to as the bluffs, as subdivisions and warehouse development transformed the sparse desert into a livable community.
In later years, as the Morris Hill Cemetery was constructed, a system of roads was established, more effectively designating the area as a residential space. Completion of the Union Pacific Railroad Depot in 1925 as part of a larger campaign to balance the Idaho Statehouse residing at the opposite end of present day Capitol Boulevard with an equally impressive landmark was an undoubtedly appealing feature to eager homeowners, effectively ushering in rapid settlement of the area by the 1940s. Although the Crescent Rim District has never been given the acclaim or recognition it deserves when compared to other prestigious neighborhoods such as Harrison Boulevard or Warm Springs, it is rich in history, providing the perfect context for the Howard and Jeanne Marcellus Estate.
The house itself residing at 3221 Crescent Rim Drive cannot entirely be dedicated to a single architectural style. Because the house was built in stages between the two-year period from 1946 to 1948, it reflects more the eclectic tastes of architect Howard Marcellus rather than a traditional design. The mixed materials and asymmetrical layout of the house lend themselves to the various revival periods of the mid-20th Century. The home’s towered entryway with a conical roof reflects a cottage aesthetic while wide board siding and paired six-over-one windows are indicative of more the Colonial Revival style. Nonetheless, the house’s most defining feature: an impressive backyard of .43 acres is in keeping with the neighboring homes, rendering it well suited for the Crescent Rim Historic Neighborhood.
The backyard, similar to many homes in the Crescent Rim District relied upon flood irrigation until recent remodels by the current homeowners, John and Stacy Slattery in 2005, in an affordable albeit environmentally devastating process which sourced water from the New York Canal to foster the lawns abundant growth. The addition of both a pool and a hot-tub, however, interrupted such a process and the more modernized backyard now features clean horizontal lines and geometric shapes evidenced by the spacing of locally sourced rocks and brushed steel-sided patio.
Marcellus, born in 1907, was an Idaho native through and through. After graduating from Boise High School, Marcellus pursued studies in architectural engineering at the University of Idaho. Following his studies Marcellus earned himself a position as a draftsman for the State Department of Public Works, which later transitioned to the Idaho Transportation Department where he met his wife Jeanne. Marcellus, an ardent environmental patron, used his impressive status as part of the Highway Department to further efforts of the Soil Conservation Committee to which he was also a part. Based upon the effective campaigns of Marcellus and the Committee, the 18 mile stretch between Pocatello and the Igo Railroad Overpass was seeded in order to prevent erosion and arrest the spread of noxious weeds such as Halogeton. Following 42 years of commendable service Marcellus retired in 1972 until his death in 1973, turning the house over to its second occupant: Verne Wood.
In 1979, Verne Wood oversaw the construction of the large second story, amounting to an approximate addition of 750 square feet, an area which is primarily dedicated to the second floor master bedroom suite. The renovation attempts to mirror the original style as the weatherboard siding is continued throughout and the gabled wall dormers reflect Marcellus’ unique tastes. Wood’s remodels, all taking place while Verne himself lived in the house’s current garage, where an old shower drain still serves to evidence his occupation also resulted in the enclosure of the original outdoor living room residing at the rear of the house in 1999. As the current residents, John and Stacy Slattery took over occupation of the house; an impressive new wave of renovations swept the property, designating the house with the contemporary and modernized feel it now possesses.
The Howard and Jeanne Marcellus house represents the history of architecture in Boise. Its lot, designated in the original Buena Vista Subdivision laid out in August of 1935 is now home to a mixed material, and eclectically styled home which embraces elements of both past and present design.
Information was sourced from the Eighth Annual Heritage Home Tour of the Crescent Rim Historic District, and property information from the Slattery Family. Thank you.