Odds & Ends » Home Sweet Home

1401 W. Fort, Boise; Built in 1898; 1,381 Sq. Feet; 3 Bed, 1.5 Baths


.14 Acres


MLS# 98354765

Coldwell Banker Aspen Realty

Carol Pitman, 861-7117

This North End home was built in 1898 by John and Sarah Thomas Tonkin at a time when the young city's roads were made of dirt. Boise's electric streetcar era was flourishing, and horse-drawn buggies were a common form of transportation. The home's current owners have a photograph of Tonkin's son, George, sitting in front of the home in a horse-and-buggy rig. The photo, dated 1900, shows a young tree in the front corner of the yard that stands about eight feet tall. It also shows the house before its upper floor and dining room were enlarged. Today, an enormous elm tree has replaced the twiggy sprout, and asphalt and automobiles line the once-earthen street.

You might expect to find a few quirks inside a 110-year-old house, and this one is no exception. There are two front doors through which to enter the home. Both are located on the covered front porch. One opens into the living room, the other leads to the dining room. Inside, the main living spaces are located downstairs, while the private quarters are upstairs. The living room is at the front of the house, and a large dining room sits beyond it. What looks to be the original hardwood floor remains in the living room and in a formal-looking room adjacent to the eating area. The glass in several of the home's tall, older windows appears wavy, making me wonder if they might be original, too. The main bathroom is tucked behind the formal space. There is sheet vinyl flooring in the dining room and in the kitchen, where there are very basic-looking built-in cabinets. Some of the upper kitchen cabinets have glass fronts. There is a tiny enclosed porch behind the kitchen. From the porch, you can access a cellar that the owner believes was originally used for coal storage. The back yard is not huge, but it has a vegetable garden and is roomy enough for little kids to run around in.

Upstairs, are three bedrooms and a half bathroom. The bathroom and all three bedrooms have angled ceilings and feel like they are tucked right underneath the roof. The upstairs configuration is definitely quirky and would benefit from a thoughtful updating. The first bedroom is located toward the front of the house—nothing unusual there. The second bedroom is the largest of the three, but the third bedroom can only be accessed by walking through the second bedroom. The upstairs bathroom contains just vanity and toilet, so adding a shower or bathtub would be a nice option to having to go downstairs and through the living room to do your daily bathing.

One of the best things about this house is its location. The popular Hyde Park commercial district is a leisurely walk or a quick bike ride away. Shops and restaurants along State Street are nearby, and a trip to the farmer's market in downtown Boise on a summery Saturday morning could easily be made by bicycle. Camel's Back Park is about one mile away, which is popular for its playground, tennis courts and trailheads to hiking trails galore in Boise's Foothills. North Junior High sits directly across the street from this house. The current owners say when their son was growing up, he could roll out of bed and be at school in no time. The downside, however, is that the street in front of the house is lined with parked cars on school days. However, there is a paved driveway in front of the two-car detached garage behind the backyard, so you do have private parking.

Pros: A vintage home in a desirable North End location with much potential for upgrading and refining.

Cons: Fort Street is lined with parked cars on school days. The home could use some updating.