George Washington Smith was a painter and architect in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Born in Pennsylvania, he became a draftsman at an architecture firm. With his buildings, he created a massive new architectural movement in the west, called Spanish Colonial Revival.
Built in 2009, the Hollingshead’s house was inspired by George Washington Smith’s movement. It is in a new neighborhood called Terra Nativa, where many of the homes have a Spanish or Spanish colonial style. The house’s Spanish Colonial features include decorative wrought iron, wooden ceiling beams, hand painted tiles on the stairs, built in niches and alcoves, hallway arches, terracotta tile, cut steel work and light fixtures, dark stained wood, and elaborate ceiling designs. However, this house differentiates itself from all the homes in Terra Nativa with other unique features. The house is built over a sprawling 2.1 acres, with a massive garden, a dome on top of the roof, fountains all around it, and a cast-iron Tyrannosaurus Rex in the back yard.
In order to build such a house, the Hollingsheads took trips to Europe, ordered ceilings from morocco and ordered cast iron from Mexico. All of these efforts combined, created a house valued at $1.4 million today. The main architects and draftsmen of this project were Mike Belt, Cris Williams and Mr. Mark Hollingshead himself. Belt, the president of Dwell design group, and Williams helped Mr. Hollingshead bring his ideas to life. In talking to Mr. Hollingshead, we discovered many secrets about the design of the house and got a taste of Mr. Hollingshead’s enthusiasm for his house.
The use of decorative iron can be seen in many places throughout the house. The stair railings, gates, balconies, lights and chandeliers alike are all made in a black cast iron decorative design, and most, if not all, are hand crafted. One of the house’s handcrafted elements is the iron railing on the main staircase. In order to ensure that the railing would be a perfect fit, hired craftsmen from Mexico came to measure how much iron was needed, drove back to Mexico to create the ironworks, and then drove all the way back to Boise to put the beautiful staircase together. The staircase is also, as mentioned above, decorated with intricate tiles and designs. One can find similar tiles on the walls and ceilings as well.
There are two ceilings in the house that were actually imported directly from morocco, a feature that few houses can claim to have. The variety of tiles makes the inside of the house extremely interesting, and the Spanish-looking designs compliment the Spanish Colonial feel of the house. The intricacy of the designs on the tiles, ceilings, and even on the pillars and fountains show how much work and dedication was put into every detail of the house – it is truly a building to marvel at. The pillars inside are beautiful Corinthian pillars, some with spiraling bodies and flowering tops. Outside, ionic pillars with spiral tops support their covered patio’s ceiling – both inside and outside, many pillars are the base supports of arches.
Although the house seems to be almost a mansion, the exposed wooden ceiling beams and terracotta roof tiles give it an older feel – it was hard to believe that it was built in only 2009. The white stucco walls on the outside give the illusion of simplicity and age. Although it seems old, it has more luxury than any Spanish colony would ever have: multiple fountains, 2 massive gardens/courtyards, and a covered patio adorn the outside of this expensive home.
The homeowners took two trips to Europe to draw out some architecture features that they believed to be fitting for the house. This included the prominent dome as part of their master bathroom. This dome is actually filled in, meaning the inside ceiling is flat; however, this doesn’t detract from the majestic outside view.
Finally, arches and arcades are everywhere inside (an arcade is a series of arches). Arches leave the most open space inside a building, while still providing support – the arches inside the halls, rooms, and doorways give a spacious feeling to each room in the Hollingshead’s house. Some pillars and arches are purely decorative, however – in the master bathroom and in the home theater, it is evident that the arches are not needed for support. The arcade in the master bathroom adds a finishing touch to the room.
In the home theater, the last room we visited, Mr. Hollingshead went for a 1920s-style. This is anachronistic with the rest of the Spanish colonial home, but it is amazing in its own right. The shallow dome in the ceiling paired with the lightly sloping floor provides amazing acoustics, and the dim golden lighting gives the room the perfect great-Gatsby feel.
Although much of the architectural aspects of the home are strictly of Spanish Colonial Revival influence, the house contains some features, like the home theater, that aren’t characteristic of Spanish Colonial style homes. For example, it is commonplace to witness a floor made of terracotta tile in a traditional setting. However, the Hollingshead home is mostly comprised of dark wood floors and smoother, stone tiles made of cantera. The back patio is all made of imported black lava rock, which compromises traditional aspects of the home.
Many others made significant contributions to the creation of the Hollingshead house. These people include Anthony Pingston, a local muralist who painted many of the intricate designs found throughout the house. Additionally, Deb and Greg Bauer from Ivy Design worked as general contractors on the landscape architecture.