Property Type: Residential
Neighborhood: The Bench  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Private  |  Architectural Style: English Cottage
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The Koelsch House was built on Crescent Rim Dr. in 1932. The house was originally designed by Hans Hulbe, the resident architect for the Boise Payette Lumber Company. Dr. Koelsch was the doctor that the Boise Payette Lumber Company hired to care for their employees. The house was designed in the English Cottage style. The exterior façade is brick with weeping mortar, painted white, with a wooden shingle roof. The interior of the house exhibits a bit of Spanish flair with dark mahogany for ceiling supports, floors, doors, window frames, and the staircase. The walls on the inside are white stucco, textured with a burlap sack.
The original house, in the English Cottage style, is similar to many other homes along Crescent Rim Dr. They were all constructed in the same period and the English Cottage style was popular in that day. Hans Hulbe, the architect responsible for designing the Koelsch house also built several other homes near the Boise Train Depot, including his own home. English Cottage homes are rare these days, as many have been remodeled, altered, or torn down all together. The English Cottage style arose in the 1920s and remained popular until the 1940s or so. Based on cottages built in the English countryside, English Cottage homes were often characterized by a high peaked roof, 1 to 2 stories, asymmetrical in design, sometimes with clipped gables, decorative timbers, small dormers and dormer windows, and almost always with outside walls of brick or stucco. Their interiors featured low doors, often arched, some small and irregularly shaped rooms, and sloping walls and ceilings in upstairs rooms. When the style came to America in the 20s it was very much a revival style of old English country homes. Many homes throughout the Crescent Rim neighborhood and the area on the Boise Bench exhibit this revival style. Hulbe Dr. is actually named after Hans Hulbe, because of his design of many homes in the neighborhood.
During his time living in the home Dr. Koelsch did very little to change it from original. The most major of any changes he performed came in 1937 when Dr. Koelsch bought twenty feet of the neighboring lot and yard, built a wall around the property and added an in-ground pool. When Dr. Koelsch’s parents died in 1936 and he had no use of their previous home, built on the corner of what is now Bannock and 1st St, so he tore it down and used the bricks to construct the wall surrounding his property. He then built his office on top of his parents’ former home. Dr. Koelsch was an avid gardener and spent a great deal of time in the front yard. In 1937 Americana Boulevard hadn’t been built yet so all the funerals going to the Morris Hill Cemetery had to travel up Capital Boulevard and along Crescent Rim Dr, right past Dr. Koelsch’s house. Because it was customary to stand to attention and pay respects as a funeral procession passed Dr. Koelsch was often dragged away from his gardening. The steady stream of funeral processions were part of Dr. Koelsch’s motivation behind building the wall, now a key feature of the house.
The current owners moved to Boise in 1975. They immediately began looking for a house that would serve as their permanent residence. The house he wanted was of a certain age, with a view, large trees, and was preferably brick. Dr. Koelsch’s house fit the bill perfectly. As the current owner said “When I saw the house through the gate I knew it was perfect, I knew it was the one that I wanted.” They looked all across Boise for a different home but they always compared it to Dr. Koelsch’s house. One day they approached Dr. Koelsch about the house and told him that if he was ever interested in selling it he would be interested in buying. Dr. Koelsch reportedly replied “When I leave this house they will carry me out.” In 1975 Dr. Koelsch was almost 80 years old so they didn’t think they’d have long to wait for the house to enter the market. They developed a very close relationship with the Koelsch family and became very good friends with Dr. Koelsch. They ended up waiting 20 years for the house. Dr. Koelsch died in 1996 at the age of 100.
The current owners bought the house in 1997 and began an extensive remodel. The design work for the remodel was done by their son, a Portland architect. They wanted the additions to the house to remain as true to the original as possible so they continued the style through the rest of the house. If you weren’t told the house had been remodeled and added on to you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. On the western end of the house a great room and kitchen were added as well as a full extension to the basement underneath. An office was added off the living room on the east end of the house. Similar building techniques were used to continue the original nature of the home into the new section. The walls were again textured with burlap, the floors and trim were done in mahogany, and the rooms were designed in the same style as the original part of the house. Fixtures that were removed during the remodel were refinished and reused elsewhere in the home. The floors were redone in such a way that there were no abrupt edges between the old floor and the new section. About 2000 square feet were added to the 2700 original square feet in the house. The pool, by virtue of the removal of another pool in the Boise area, has become the oldest in-ground pool in Boise. The Koelsch house features some beautiful design work characteristic of many homes throughout the Boise area. It is a very unique and beautiful home that keeps the old architectural style alive in our city.