Now occupied by the Dunlop family, 211 West Jefferson Street exhibits a plethora of historical significance in the Boise area. Located in the beautiful Downtown Boise, the house occupies an area surrounded by small business but would have been in the heart of the neighborhood in historical turn-of-the-century Boise. Even though many of the other homes were torn down of converted to law firms and dentist offices, the Tipton House has remained a beacon of the past for the wandering, curious eyes to dwell upon its beauty. Built in 1903, the original owner was Samuel Tipton. The Tipton family was a diverse group of people and Samuel Tipton was a very successful lawyer during his lifetime in Boise. They lived there until the late 1990s.
The Tipton House displays many significant architectural characteristics. Designed by the architectural firm architectural firm of Tourtellotte and Hummel, although the Idaho Statesman reported that the nine-room house would be “classic colonial in design”, the house signifies a transition between Queen Anne and Colonial Revival Style. At the time, it was considered very modern and was expected by the Idaho Statesman to cost about $2500. However, it ended up with a price tag of $5000.
The wraparound porch and scalloped panels are characteristic of the Queen Anne style architecture, popular at the time. This kind of architecture is furthermore seen in the general shape and composition of the building materials. Also prominent at the time, many houses of the era started adopting a colonial revival style. This is shown in the Tipton House by the Tuscan columns that line the front of the porch, signifying the strength, durability, and sophistication of respected early America around war time. In fact, the current owner, Patricia Dunlop, likes to imagine the house in a post war era of flattering dresses and joyful celebration. It is truly a blast from the past to experience this beautiful home, and imagine what life would have been like in the early twentieth century. In addition, the house exhibits a unique curved roofing style on the second floor attic windows, adding artistic flare to the otherwise square structure.
The Tipton also has significant historical value. In the early decade of the 1900’s, America was beginning to go through a Progressive Era. In Boise, Mrs. Tipton was a prominent Progressive leader specifically with the St. Michael’s Church and Women’s Auxiliary. Mr. Tipton, on the other hand, owned a thriving law practice and was commended for his hard work by receiving the position of assistant US attorney from 1908 to 1912. In addition, Mr. Tipton was an ardent outdoor enthusiast and was a strong supporter of the Republican political party. Contrary to her parents’ grounded lifestyles, the oldest Tipton daughter was noted for her spontaneous and sometimes promiscuous behavior and “wild child” reputation. In fact, in the 1920’s she left her family for Alaska. When she returned, they were surprised to find she had a bastard child. Quite fascinating as is, she spent the rest of her life living in the back bedroom of the Tipton House, even after her parents had passed away.
The Tipton’s son never married, and the same family owned the house until the 1990s. At that time, when the Tipton family finally vacated the house, it was sold to a man who tried to convert it to an office building. While in his possession, it was renovated. He put in hardwood floors instead of the original wall-to-wall carpeting and added refrigeration and air conditioning. The current owners of the house, the Dunlops, add to the overall flair with a picturesque fruit bowl along with a collection of modern art pieces that juxtapose the historic nature of the home. Despite their creative decoration, they did manage to keep the antique piano that lies in the living room along with the stories. Furthermore, it was remodeled again in 2004.
Considered very modern at the time of its construction, the Tipton House contains many interesting characteristics that are often overlooked in our technologically advanced world. For example, the house is equipped with boiler vents distributing hot air from the boiler room in the basement which at the time would have been considered a luxury. Along this line, the house lacks a fireplace: a fact that is very unusual considering the time period. Due to the fact that the Tiptons were a financially well-off band of folks, the house was designed with household workers in mind. It contains two sets of stairs, one specifically for the servants leading up the back of the kitchen to the bedroom area on the second floor.
In a more modern sense, the historical significance can still be appreciated since some of the windows still have original glass. Furthermore, geothermal heating was installed in the 1990s. Overall, the Tipton House is made up of 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (one of which contains the original bathtub), a library, a sitting room, and a parlor. Significant to the leisure time adopted by many Americans of the early 1900’s, the Tipton House showcases this trend with its wraparound porch perfect for Sunday summer afternoons sipping lemonade and eating pound cake while gossiping with the local ladies.
Restored to its single family use, the Tipton House is truly a gem in the historical Boise scene. Highlighted in Preservation Idaho’s Historic Homes Tour, the now Dunlop Manor offers the world a unique insight to the world of Progressive architecture in Boise.