Granite Hall, built between 1900 and 1901, is a mixture of various architectural styles. Named for the Boise hills granite that girds the first floor, Granite Hal is situated on beautiful Warm Springs in East Boise. From creaking doors to grand entryway, the house is a blend of styles and a record of history. The elements of Second Empire, Georgian, Greek Revival, and Regency styles, combine to form the unique splendor that is Granite Hall in everything from windowpanes to columns.
Second Empire architecture reached its peak in the late 1800s, but continued to influence architecture into the 1900s, as evidenced in its influence on Granite Hall. This style is characterized by its decorative qualities such as brackets, molded cornices, and often towers in the center of the façade, as well as many windows. The Corinthian columns at the front of the house are a prominent characteristic of the Second Empire style. Granite Hall acquired only the molded cornices and brackets, though they are not quite as decorative as the original Second Empire style. This is not the only style of that time period to influence the house, however, as evidenced by the Queen Anne trimming on the roof and the cut outs on the seam of roof.
The aspects of Georgian architecture that Granite Hall inherited are very basic but important. Defining features of this style in its symmetry, paired chimneys, and brick. Despite the wraparound covered porch and the extensions on the side, the façade of the house is symmetrical and though the stones that make up the first floor are not brick, they do mimic the style. Though the house has both a basement and an attic, only two stories are immediately visible, which adds to the Georgian appearance.
The Greek Revival style gives Granite Hall the majority of its decorative features. Though Granite Hall has a porch, it is more of the Victorian style than the Greek Revivalist. The columns of Granite Hall are too small to be considered Greek Revival, however, it has the center gable common of this style along with the long rectangular windows surrounding the front door. The house also has, however, the hipped roof, double-hung windows, and single chimney at the side of the house of the Regency style. This blend of architectural styles makes Granite Hall exemplary of the blended and transitioning tastes of the turn of the century.
There are many interesting design features in the house. The floor plan is such that, at the time of building, all rooms were accessible via the hallways, so that no room had to be crossed to reach another. This is facilitated by several staircases in addition to the main hallways, the main staircase to the second story and an unobtrusive back stairway to the kitchen. A third staircase leads to the basement, which is floored with maple hardwood and was used to host many parties over the years. Several of the walls were not wallpapered, but instead feature sheets of embossed tin with different designs that can be repainted according to taste. There are varying styles of windows, used not only for light, but also as decoration, as seen in the windows framing the door and the unique attic window. In addition to the main porch, which is flanked by several Corinthian style columns, there is a covered wraparound porch and a back patio.
The house was built by a Mr. Davidson from Tennessee in the early nineteen hundreds. At his wife’s request, the interior decoration of the house was almost immediately redone and left that way until the next owners decided to make minor changes. The second owners of the house, the Burrows family, modernized the kitchen in the nineteen-fifties but left the exterior and most of the internal design alone. During the occupation by the third owners, the Beesons, there were more significant remodels. They redid the interior of the house, bringing it up to modern standards and redecorating the house.
Additionally, they repainted the exterior twice. The first time, they accidentally chose a shade of blue that, when paired with the then red door, made the house appear to be painted in the orange and blue of the local college, Boise State University. After many complaints of historical inaccuracy and having found a proper shade of blue-grey, they painted the house a second time. The current owners, the Chandlers, are further remodeling the interior, giving the house a more modern feel.
For many years, the house retained its original geothermal heating, but was eventually replaced for better function. Before the heating was replaced, the multiple fireplaces were used to supply additional heat during the winter, as the pipes could freeze and in some cases, give out. As the driveway was once shared, it was later expanded to provide space for the owners of Granite Hall and the adjacent house. The original lot of the house was much larger, stretching down the hill behind the house and to the side. Before selling the original house, the Beesons built a new home at the bottom of the lot and split the lot into three portions.
All of these features, from the detailing on the roof to the layout of the house, contribute to the architectural significance of Granite Hall. The interesting mixture of styles that make up the house reflect the stylistic trends of the early twentieth century, focused more on personal preference than historical archetypes. Though the house retains its historic appearance from the exterior, the interior has changed over time to reflect the changing ideals of American homeowners.