Amongst the many historic homes of Boise’s North End lies the Hoover House. Situated at 1005 N. Harrison Boulevard, the Western Colonial home, a part of the National Register of Historic Places, seems at place among the many other eloquent homes which surround it. Despite a recent renovation to modernize the home, it retains much of its celebrated charm. Its Western Colonial style provides the home with many unique details in addition to many features characteristic of its time and location. Amongst its more unique features is the unusual pattern of clapboard siding which varies in width for a decorative effect. The siding provides a distinctive touch by flaring over the home’s foundation. The rusticated foundation, composed of cast sandstone, is a noticeably Western characteristic typical of Boise homes built in the early 20th century, and a feature which distinguishes it from traditional Colonial homes.
The home’s symmetrical design, however, is highly representative of the Colonial style. Shuttered windows, six panes over a single double hung pane, give the house a wide-open, airy look and provide the home a sense of visual balance. The symmetrical design is also accented by a façade-spanning porch with a hipped roof complimentary to the structure’s larger roof. At the center of the home lies a central triangular portico. The soft lines of the portico and the fanning decoration within it are a notable departure from the otherwise angular design. The stoop below the portico is composed of cast stone similar to that of the foundation.
The quality finishes seen on the outside of the Hoover Home continue throughout the interior. Upon entering the house, visitors pass through what used to be a sleeping porch. Sleeping porches offered a cool space to rest during hot summer days and nights. As a result, they are commonly found in homes built prior to the widespread use of air conditioning.
Besides the sleeping porch, the first floor has undergone a number of changes. Pocket doors separate the dining room and a number of other living spaces as they always have, however the kitchen, which was originally located in the basement, was relocated to the first floor during a modern remodel. Similarly, what was once the butler’s pantry and dumbwaiter is now a bathroom.
The home originally featured a coal-fired furnace which was also removed. The furnace’s chimney, which stretched the height of the home, has been converted into a laundry chute. Further within the house, visitors are greeted by many of the home’s original features, including a prominent staircase. The fine, dark wood of the staircase can also be seen in many of the home’s high baseboards and intricately carved window trims. Many of the home’s rooms feature similarly intricate crown molding.
Other than basic modernizations, the layout of the second level remains true to the original floor plan. Another sleeping porch, which also remains essentially unchanged from its original design, can be found at the back of the second floor.
One especially unique characteristic of the house is its frame. The house was built using a technique known as balloon framing. Balloon framing is a method of wood construction which utilizes long continuous studs which run the height of a structure. In comparison to modern, more common construction methods such as platform framing, which allow for the use of short and thin pieces of wood, balloon framing required the use of long, robust pieces of wood. Balloon framing was used in the construction of the Hoover Home for a number of reasons. First, the method did not require significant amounts of skilled labor in comparison to other methods. Highly skilled carpenters were hard to come by in Idaho in the early 1900s, which made balloon framing an economical and practical option. Additionally, the original owner of the Hoover Home, Edgar Malone Hoover, was the director of the Payette Lumber and Manufacturing Company, a major contributor to what was one of the largest industries in the North West. As a result, Hoover had easy access to the long lengths of lumber needed for balloon framing.
A number of notable residents have occupied the home. As stated previously, E.M. Hoover was the builder and the first owner of the home. Hoover originally came from Iowa, where he worked in the lumber industry. He was a devoted and hard-worker who eventually rose to a leadership position in his company. The opportunities and rapid development of Idaho attracted his attention and being the devoted individual he was, he ventured to the state to make his fortune. He arrived in Boise in May of 1904, at which point, he assumed the office of general manager of the Payette Lumber and Manufacturing Company. Under his leadership, with splendid resources and facilities for the development of the lumber industry at hand, it grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the Northwest.
Hoover went on to be involved in a number of other important business interests aw well. He worked as the director of the Boise City National Bank, the director of the Boise Title & Trust Company, one of the incorporators of the Northwest Paper Company, and a director and manager of the Payette River Improvement Company. For several years, he was a colonel in the governor’s staff of Idaho, as well as inspector general of the National Guard and United States disbursing officer under Governors Gooding, Brady, Hawley and Haines. He was actively involved in Republican politics and was one of three delegates from Idaho to the first Conservation Congress in Washington DC.
Additionally, Hoover helped to establish the Boise YMCA, belonged to the Masons, and was a member of the National Geographic Society. E.M. Hoover’s wife, Jane Hoover, was also a prominent member of society. She founded the College Women’s Club of Boise, organized the Boise YWCA, and wrote a number literary works for publications including Life, Child Life, the Boston Post, the Boston Herald, and the Idaho Statesman. The Hoovers sold the home in 1936 for a meager $10,000, at which time it was purchased by a man by the name of Potter P. Howard. Howard was another influential businessman and member of the community, who served as Boise’s mayor from 1947-1951. Howard was not a particularly influential mayor; however he did authorize the decision to demolish Boise’s old City Hall, and to construct a new one.