Nestled behind maples leaves and florescent green bushes sits the Aldecoa House. Colorful foliage hides the beauty of this Spanish styled home. White washed walls are set off by a red terracotta roof, a trade mark of a Spanish home. Exposed eves support the tiled roof and a bay window protrudes from the side next to the large front porch. A dormer adorns both sides of the house. Wrought iron rails enclose a small balcony on the second floor. These details add an eclectic flair to the Spanish home. A milk cubby and rectangular designs on the windows add a vintage element to the home.
The house was originally located at 212 East Idaho, but was moved to its present location when it was purchased by St. Luke’s. However, a detached garage belonging to the original house did not make it to Jefferson Street. It was instead moved to the Frederick C. (Fritz) Hummel house a few doors down from the Aldecoa’s and is now located on Warm Springs Avenue. Originally, the Aldecoa house was a bungalow with wooden siding and an enclosed porch. Shortly after their youngest daughter was born, the Aldecoas remodeled the house in the Spanish style as a tribute to their Basque heritage.
Delphine Aldecoa grew up in the house and shared her family’s history and favorite memories with us. Born in 1883, Delphine’s father John Domingo Aldecoa came to the US when he was 16 and began working as a sheepherder for the Mellen brothers. Her family spoke Basque at home, but it was not difficult for her to learn English.
Her oldest sister, Maurina Aldecoa, was born in Boise in 1913. Her travels ranged from Europe to China, but the most fascinating were the days in London with the OSS (later becoming the CIA) during WWII. She worked in the registry for counterintelligence, screened secret information and prepared for D-Day. She graduated from Boise High School and taught at Boise High School as a teacher and helped open Borah High School as a counselor.
Lt. Manuel J. Aldecoa, her brother, was a P-38 fighter pilot who was shot down over Lille, France during World War II. Manuel Aldecoa was killed on in 1943 when his P-38 collided with Maj. Johannes Siefert’s FW-190 during a dogfight. He attacked Maj. Siefert head-on and as they passed, their wings collided. He managed to bail out of his P-38, but sadly his parachute failed to deploy. He died one day before his birthday. His parents later donated a beautiful marble altar to the chapel of St. John’s in memory of their son, which stands there to this day.
Delphine described a neighborhood in which all of the neighbors knew each other. She remembers playing kick the can in the alley ways and playing softball in the park across the street. Although she later admitted that she was never invited to join in the fun because she was too young. Delphine can remember playing hide and seek with the neighbor kids and hiding in her favorite spot, the laundry chute and stealing the milk out of the locked milk cubby through a hole that only a child’s hand could fit through. The Aldecoa house was host to many family gatherings. One of her favorite memories of the house was at her parent’s 50th anniversary party where all of the older women got tipsy from champagne. Whenever family came to visit, the house was always welcome to them. Delphine accounts that the house always seemed to be filled with family and neighbors and even the Bishop of St. John’s Cathedral would come over to feast on her mother’s incredible Basque cooking.
Now the house is not filled with smells of warm Basque food or laughter from neighbors and family, but with files and medical records. The house is currently owned by St. Luke’s who to the family’s delight has maintained the look and history of the house. However, some clues remain from the original house. An arched doorway leads to what was probably the dining room which possesses built in cabinets and drawers. A phone cubby in the hallway now serves as a decorative shelf. Brass doorknobs with intricate designs bring the house back to its original style. The Aldecoa House is a perfect example of the diverse architecture in Boise and an example of how culture can influence architecture. We would like to say thank you to Delphine for inviting us into her home and sharing her history and memories with us. It was a pleasure talking to you, thank you!
(Lauren and Jing)
Source: Delphine Aldecoa
More on the house’s architecture…..
Dubbed to be the influence of Spanish Eclectic architecture, many traits of this house are characteristic of the 1890’s and this style of design. The house has three levels to it: a basement used predominately for storage throughout the life of the house, a main floor for entertaining, cooking, and leisure, and an upstairs where bedrooms and washrooms exist. Now an office building, the parlor, kitchen, bedrooms, living room, and dining room have all be remodeled and white washed to become offices for St. Luke’s. However many clues of original inside detailing are left behind. Although the walls are all painted white, intricate flower and pattern texture on the walls suggest old wallpaper was painted over when the place was remodeled an the trim and baseboard that line the house is believed to originally have been a beautiful dark wood.
Upon entering, a large arched doorway to what is believed to have been the original dining room possesses elaborate carvings and details not often seen in modern architecture. Built-in cabinets with drawers and mirrors line the back wall. The hallways narrower than today’s, a phone cubby now serves a decorative shelf. Upstairs, a 1950’s remodeled bathroom shines bright pink décor in the viewers’ vision while original light fixtures of the house tame the strong effect. Doorknobs with designs where the palm clasps add subtle class to each plain white door. Walk in closets, some even with windows, have drawers built into the walls, a characteristic of late 1800’s houses.
Moving from the inside out, White stucco walls are highlighted with red wrought iron detailing and a red tiled roof. A small arched entryway welcomes visitors and invites passer-bys to enjoy the beauty of the house. The asymmetrical design keeps admirers intrigued but not at a loss for balance. The windows’ pane division adds subtle class and interest to the design as well as current landscaping that compliments the color scheme and overall balance of the house. On the backside of the house, original features of the house like a milk delivery cubby have been lift, painted dark red, to add life to white walls. A balcony for the centered second floor window carries wrought iron rails and floor protruding from double doors of an upstairs bedroom. Low roof pitches compliment red Spanish tiles that top the abode.
(Sarah and Lindsay)
Update: due to St. Luke’s expansion, the house was set to be torn down. However, it was saved, and then moved to a temporary spot along Warm Springs where it was parked with other “casualties” of the expansion. It was then moved across the street along Warm Springs, overlooking the 1st hole on Warm Springs golf course. 8/12/2020