By DAVE FRAZIER,
When I saw the news reporting the demise of the J.R. Simplot house on the hill overlooking Bogus Basin Road–and the entire valley, not only was I incredulous, but I actually felt a little empty.
It was empty for 10 years even after a group of influential Idahoans pushed hard to make it the official residence for Idaho’s governors and raised a hefty amount of cash to keep it running after Simplot donated the place to the state and moved into the Grove Hotel.
Based on news reports, it appears the flag will be the only remnant of the once iconic home to remain. Family members got the place back when the state decided in 2013 it would not be a residence for governors. The idea of a governor’s mansion is kind of awkward these days since Gov. Butch Otter was once Simplot’s son-in-law.
During a photo shoot for a national magazine, Simplot took me home for lunch. As we drove up the long drive he looked out at the acres of grass and complained, “I got brown spots in my lawn. Gonna have to drill a couple more wells I guess.”
When he fished the door key out of his pocket, he said, “People call this a mansion. It’s just a shack on a hill really.” That’s when he pointed out the elevator, the spectacular view, and invited me to share some “grub.”
We sat in the kitchen where I admired the exotic wood paneling. I asked if it was walnut and he responded by naming a wood from either Australia or South America declaring, “Stuff cost me damn near $1,000 a sheet.”
According to one report, salvageable items like appliances went where we all take our used stuff–The Idaho Youth Ranch. If those folks are smart, they should be able to command some top prices for things like “Simplot’s kitchen range and refrigerator.”
One little fact about the property which is “pure J.R.” involves taxes. Originally the place was within the Boise City limits, but Simplot got his legal boys to appeal to the Boise City Council to “de-annex” the parcel. He paid much lower taxes as a county resident.
Ada County assessor records show the now demolished house was valued at $797,000 and the land is worth $2.1 million.
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