401-409 Broad St.; Built: 1913; 4-houses, 6,600 sq. ft., 3-4 bed, 2 bath 


Swope Investments, Listing Agent: Mike Swope


These four colorful little houses are part of the Central Addition Neighborhood, an area sandwiched between Myrtle and Front and Second and the alley between Fifth and Sixth streets. The Central Addition was once considered a prosperous and fashionable neighborhood, filled with mansions (a few of which still exist) where some of Boise's most notable resided. That was until Union Pacific brought a rail through along Front Street—the elite bailed and the area fell to more commercial-type uses. Over the years, the area has become primarily rental housing with some developers trying to buy enough pieces to make some other type of use viable.

A quick glance (probably from Front going 40 mph, because, thanks to the Connector, there is no other real reason to find yourself on this street) would lead one to believe that the only difference between these four working-class houses is the paint color. A closer look reveals subtle, albeit noticeable, differences: Stone headers above windows, dormers, window locations, lean-tos and the little flare along the plate line are just a few.

I toured through the west end unit—the latte flavored one. The current owners fixed this unit up recently for their own use. A covered concrete stoop leads to the paneled entry door. Stepping inside, it is nice to see the high ceilings and much of the historic integrity intact (hardwood floors, ornate door and window trim, door hardware and lighting). Natural light fills the house through the tall windows. The front room transitions to a dining area, which has French doors that lead out to a small side yard. The kitchen has probably seen the most significant updating—new stained, recessed panel cabinetry, laminate countertops and some fun checkerboard flooring are just a few of the "mod" highlights.

Just off the kitchen is a small mudroom with an exterior door to the small back yard. The main level has a full bath – an old tub, pedestal sink, bead-board wainscot and sheet flooring. Upstairs, reached via the kitchen, are two nice sized bedrooms—fully carpeted, sloped ceilings and decent closet space. One of the bedrooms has its own bathroom. There is also a closet at the top of the stairs. The basement is accessed through a door off the dining area. This is not a cobweb-infested, watch-your-head-type basement. Painted in white, with plenty of headroom and natural light, it makes for a great laundry, storage and work space.

Although this is not a terribly large lot, these houses seem to fit just fine and are able to utilize the side yards between them for a variety of purposes—storage of goods or for patio/barbecue living, with the other unit's colorful wall serving as a nice backdrop.

I am not a money person but I understand the challenges with keeping this property and the neighboring structures a part of the urban fabric and Boise's history—more density, better use of land. I am sure this area has been hearing that for quite some time. That gives me some hope that these four little houses and their historic neighbors may be around a little bit longer.

Pros: The lot size and zoning—may make it difficult for someone to come in and build another red brick building with a faux stone cornice. Probably the cheapest residential square footage in the immediate downtown area. One thing I love about these old houses when left intact: They are so adaptable to any aesthetic. It seems every available space has been maximized for storage or living.

Cons: Myrtle and Front streets hurt any real pedestrian-oriented opportunities for this area.

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