The Castle House on Warm Springs Avenue has recently been the source of controversy between the Barber Family and the city’s historical district. People have been debating whether a castle on Warm Springs is appropriate, despite it being Tim Barber’s lifelong dream. According to Barber, (responding to “Why build a castle on Warm Springs?”) “As the last vacant lot on Warm Springs Avenue, the location needed a landmark home.” The significance of the house is purely based on the fact that it is so wildly different from anything else located in that general vicinity. Because it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Victorian, Queen Anne, and Neo-Classical houses in the historic district, (the castle is located right out of the H.D’s boundaries) Boise and its citizens have responded to its construction in a variety of ways. From outrage to praise, the Warm Springs castle is making history for being one of the most unique architectural wonders in Boise, Idaho.
The house (to call it just a house seems absurd), this castle, is architecturally significant to Boise because of its absurdity/uniqueness. Once the castle is finished it will include an outdoor living entertainment area including a grill, bar area, a fire pit and a beautiful water feature. With its turrets and crenellations with the Barber family crest etched into the stone, this castle went all out with its features. Its massive winding staircase located within the massive tower/turret will allow for a circular dining room fit for the Knights of the Round Table. At the top of the house, a lookout will be featured, allowing the viewer to see all the way to the Boise State Stadium. A stone catwalk will also be featured, allowing a guest to pass to different portions of the house while able to go outside to do so. Sadly, there would be no moat with ferocious alligators or other deadly animals; only landscaping that would make it appear that there was one. The castle, complete with a drawbridge and a stone catwalk, brings back some Neo-Medieval/Gothic Architecture style that has not been seen on Warm Springs ever before. It is also significant to Boise history because it’s a first, and controversy is always something that is remembered in history. It looks as if it should be on Warm Springs, right outside of the historic district, rather it should be put on top of a mountain in a different country with fog rolling around it.
Some other information we collected from Barber was that inspiration for the build was taken from many sources. Castles that inspired the castle included Magdala Tower located in Rennes-le-Château, France, the Broadway Tower in Worcestershire, England, and Castle Islands located in St. George’s Parish, Bermuda. The medieval feel and the typical castle look was desired to achieve, therefore Barber based his own home off of these beautiful old styled castles. But one of the most important inspirations Barber used was “Fetchez La Vache!” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They even have a gargantuan stone bathtub. What more could one ask for from a castle house? Barber’s creation is definitely important to the architectural styles of Boise Idaho because its added element of diversity from the standard Queen Anne and Victorian Era house styles seen on Warm Springs.
Walking around Warm Springs and taking pictures of Barber’s castle, the sheer magnitude of the fortress/castle house was astounding. Looking at pictures of it while researching on the internet did not do the house justice; since the whole thing is bricked with giant sandstone blocks from a quarry up near Table Rock. The turret/tower was massive, bigger than we thought it was. We explored the back of the house, down a side street, and discovered that the back of the house is craftsman-y, more than gothic revival. The house and garage area had no stone on the exterior of the house; it used more green, and earth toned colors that are typically seen on a neo-craftsman styled house. We could see the drawbridge in progress, and also the moat-landscape features that would be seen in the front of the property.
Learning about the controversy being the castle house build was fascinating, and we would both like to thank Kaylene Barber and her father, Tim Barber for the opportunity to study their very architecturally unique house. Despite its lack of history besides the build controversy, this house was definitely one of the most interesting project we have ever had the pleasure of completing.
Source: Idaho Statesman, the Barbers
Update: the Castle went on the market in 2016 for $3.4 million. The price was dropped several times and was listed in 2019 as $2.5 million. It was sold soon afterwards.