A long winding lane from Bogus Basin Road leads visitors to the front door on the north side of the house. Mediterranean influences include a tile roof, arched windows and stucco exterior. This side will change extensively with a proposed 4,700-square-foot addition that adds a covered entryway, dining room, library and game room. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The three-point logo of the Simplot company, founded by 96-year-old billionaire J.R. Simplot, is etched into glass panels that flank the homeÂ’s front doors. Simplot is a straight-talking native son who made a fortune in spuds, IdahoÂ’s most famous crop. He and his wife, Esther, lived in this home, which they built, for nearly 25 years. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The view looking east recently included four deer, who stopped by to nibble on bushes outside the homeÂ’s current family room. This room and the adjacent kitchen will be remodeled to become part of the governorÂ’s private family quarters on the first floor, separate from the public areas. The family spaces will feature a comfortable, Northwest style that reflects the values of Idaho, Glancey said. He wants to use warm colors, Idaho wood for floors, beams and cabinets, stone such as Boise sandstone or Idaho quartzite and light fixtures and other details crafted by Idaho artisans.
Â“We want to bring it all together so that it is something that everyone is proud of,Â” said architect James Glancey of Glancey Rockwell & Associates of Boise. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The view from the terrace would be hard to beat from anywhere in the Boise Foothills. It faces directly to the Statehouse and downtown area. The homeÂ’s hilltop location provides 360-degree views, but the view goes both ways. The homeÂ’s famously manicured hill covered with green grass can be seen from all over Boise.
The donated property includes 32 acres of hillside surrounding the home and a concrete-lined waterfall that tumbles from beneath the terrace to ponds below.
Despite its lofty location, the house feels as though itÂ’s part of the neighborhood. The laughter of children playing at Highlands Elementary School across the street filled the air on a recent warm fall afternoon. The Simplots allowed kids of all ages to slide down the bottom portion of the hill on blocks of ice, an activity that Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has said will continue. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
A grand staircase currently leads from the two-story foyer at the front door up to the living room and a bank of arched south-facing windows. Under the new plan, the staircase would be removed and a ceiling installed across the open space to create an enclosed second story.
Removing the staircase will allow visitors to enjoy the homeÂ’s impressive views immediately as they walk in the front door on the first floor. Rather than going up, guests will go down a few steps to a new Grand Hall, a large space for entertaining that will lead to an outdoor terrace. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The houseÂ’s signature arched windows, most visible from the city below, flood the large sunny living room with natural light. The ceiling is vaulted with wooden beams. Plans call for this room to become the governorÂ’s bedroom, bath and a small office. Three other bedrooms and baths will be added on the second story for family members. A private staircase will connect the upper level to part of the lower level, allowing family members to come and go apart from public functions. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The view from the living room leads across the open foyer to the north-facing windows and views of Shafer Butte. A wet bar and sitting area is on the left. The large doors on the right lead to an elevator. This floor also contains a guest bedroom and a bathroom.
The staircase will be removed and the open foyer enclosed to create a solid second floor, which will be devoted entirely to private living quarters for the governorÂ’s family. A new game room on the second level Â— part of a 4,700-square-foot addition Â— will be located straight ahead over a new porte cochere (a covered entryway) extending from the front door area downstairs.
State officials hope the structure will serve as a governorÂ’s residence for at least 100 years, so it has to be able to accommodate all types of families, from governors with young children to those caring for aging parents, said Pam Ahrens, director of the Department of Administration.
Â“A lot of families will come and go,Â” she said. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The SimplotsÂ’ dining room table and chairs, which are included in the donation, are enclosed by carved wooded screens and topped by an ornate chandelier. This area would become part of the Grand Hall, designed to accommodate 150-200 guests. A new dining room is included in the proposed addition.
Plans are to lower the floor in the Grand Hall to raise the ceiling height from 8 feet to 12 feet. Â“It needs more volume for the large number of people gathering there,Â” said architect James Glancey of Glancey Rockwell & Associates of Boise. He envisions the Grand Hall with a more formal feel than the rest of the house. It may feature crown moldings, raised paneling and classic architectural details suitable to a quasi-public space. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
Ornate light fixtures are currently used throughout the house, including this one over the dining room table. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
The kitchen currently features cabinets painted in soft gold tones and tile on the floor and counters, including a distinctive Â“SÂ” in the backsplash. A door from the sunny kitchen leads to the terrace overlooking the Boise Valley.
The kitchen and adjacent family room will be remodeled for the private use of the governorÂ’s family. A new catering kitchen will be built next to the new formal public dining room in the proposed addition. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
Light is the theme of one of the two bedrooms on the first floor. The bedrooms will be combined to create a suite where out-of-town guests and dignitaries can spend the night. The guest quarters, with a small kitchen, sitting area, bedroom and bathroom, will be on the opposite side of the house from the governorÂ’s private family area.
Â“I think thatÂ’s a wonderful part of the house that would work well for future governors,Â” said architect James Glancey of Glancey Rockwell & Associates of Boise. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
Esther SimplotÂ’s boot jack is matched by one with J.R.Â’s initials in the homeÂ’s two garages. Apparently, house rules didnÂ’t allow muddy cowboy boots inside. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman
Wooden tongue-and-groove paneling lines the two-car garage on the east side of the house. It is matched by a one-car garage on the west side. Katherine Jones / The Idaho Statesman