Property Type: Commercial
Neighborhood: Warm Springs/East End  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Eclectic
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The Trolley House, which received its name in 1976, is located at 1812 Warm Spring Avenue. It was built in 1922 and, as far as historically registered buildings go, it is unassuming and less lauded than others. The Trolley House is a hidden gem. On the outside of the simple square red brick building, the only indication of its historic nature is a mural painted on the West wall. When one walks into the Trolley House, though, its old brick walls give away its historic nature. On one of the brick walls is a display case with antique plates, pitchers, pictures, and newspaper clippings. Old photographs of downtown Boise and other historic Idaho landmarks adorn all of the other walls. The architectural style of the Trolley House is best characterized as cottage style. This simple style is a revival of medieval England, brought about in the ’20s and ’30s. Architects tried to achieve a rustic feeling through the use of diverse building materials and the attention paid to unique details in the design. This certain architectural style is most recognized by its asymmetrical design and low arched doors. But the Trolley House is mainly characterized as a cottage style by its sloped, extremely steep roof and brick siding. Although the roof may appear to be architecturally simplistic, an interesting detail in the roof appears in the form of an eyebrow dormer above the year in which the Trolley House was constructed. Although, the main style is cottage, the trolley house windows could only be defined as exemplifying the arts and crafts style. The windows are crafted out of lead glass, a popular building material of the time. Leaded glass is made of multiple pieces of glass combined. The trolley house windows are beveled into a special design, which is uniquely arts and crafts, thus creating a varied architectural style to this 1920s building. Originally, the building was a trolley dispatch station and was located at the east end of the line for the Boise Transit street car system. The line ran as far west as Eagle and Star. The east line ran between downtown Boise and the Natatorium along Warm Springs Avenue. In fact, the building was originally built in order for people to visit the most popular amusement park of the day, the Natatorium. The Natatorium, which existed from 1892 to 1934, housed a swimming pool heated with geothermal water.
The Natatorium was located next to the Trolley House, but was eventually torn down due to a wind storm that caused severe damage to the building. The fact that the Natatorium no longer existed, along with a decrease in patronage due to more cars and buses being introduced, ended the trolley dispatch. Boise City sold the Trolley House to a Greek gentleman who transformed it into a restaurant and named it the Avenue Inn.
According to the current owner, Victoria Purdy, a speakeasy was supposedly located below the Trolley House during prohibition. High stakes gambling also existed in the speakeasy. Rumor has it that escape tunnels existed that ran from the Trolley House to what is now the M&W Market as well as under Warm Springs. Eventually and ironically, the speakeasy was broken up in a raid, and one of Ms. Purdy?s grandfathers was one of the officers that participated. Victoria Purdy also noted that the Trolley House may be haunted. Supposedly a Boise city resident named Mary was carrying a bag of vegetables to the Trolley House and was killed by one of the passing trolleys. Mary has been seen and heard haunting the Trolley House ever since. This however, has not deterred its popularity. Adam West, who played Batman, and John Denver have both eaten there. New recruits for the BSU Football team are also taken there each year. A signed letter from the BSU Football team thanking the Trolley House hangs on the wall near the cash register.