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Portia Club National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

KSD Consultling LLC, July 8, 2009
1602 W. Hays, Suite 301, Boise, Idaho 83702

Portia Club Clubhouse Structure

The Portia Club is located in Payette, a community of approximately 8,000 (2010) in southwestern Idaho. The clubhouse sits at 225 N. 9th Street. The single story building measures 32' x 56'. with a rear kitchen addition measuring 18' x 24.' Designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style, the Portia Club is unlike neighboring buildings, not only in style, but also in function and age. The building to the south is a brick church, possibly built around the same time, while the remaining structures are residential and appear to be built in or after the 1950s. There are no other structures of this style in the vicinity, which allows the Portia Club site to stand out in its setting.

The Portia Club is single-story stucco Spanish Colonial Revival style building constructed in 1927. The architect was I. C. Whitley from nearby Fruitland, Idaho. Whitley designed the building based on the architecture he saw on a visit to southern California. This style of architecture became popular after its use at the 1915 Panama - California Exhibition in San Diego, which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal. The star of that exhibition was the California Pavilion, designed by Bertram Goodhue, which drew freely from Spanish and Mediterranean architectural antecedents, resulting in a blend of elements and details.

The building is rectangular in form with a kitchen addition projecting on the west elevation. The kitchen was added sometime between 1928-1949.

The structure sits on a concrete foundation, A dedication block, inscribed with 1927, is located in the foundation on the southeast comer building. The foundation appears to be in fair condition with some deterioration, which is most visible on the southwest wall of the kitchen area.

The Portia Club entrance portico is located on the eastern wall near the northeast corner of the building. The open walls entering into the portico are battered. The arched entry has 3 decorative tiles above. The entrance portico is covered by a gabled roof with straight barrel mission tile. The sides of the portico are open with built in planter boxes on each side. The original slab, wooden door to the interior has strap hinges.

The primary (east) facade features four original windows with blind arches above. The arches feature heavy hoods with a single, centered diamond-shaped tile. The windows arc metal, multi-paned, triple-bungsash. An arcaded wing wall is found at the southeast corner of the building, providing entrance to the side of the lot.

The south elevation has minimal detailing, owing to the fact that this end of the building houses the stage on the interior. A single small window is located toward each corner of this elevation; the western window is 3-over-3, double-hung sash; the eastern window is a vertical sliding replacement window, but fits in to the original opening. Two circular medallions are located near the parapet line.

The rear (west) elevation features a projecting wall toward the north end that houses the kitchen area. The west wall of the original portion of the budding has a single door at the south corner and three evenly-spaced windows; the middle window is a modern replacement, while the flanking units are metal-frame. Thc south wall of the projecting kitchen addition has a single door, slightly offset to the east, a single four-pane fixed frame window and a single, 6-over-1 double-hung window. The cast elevation of the kitchen addition has only a single 6-over-l double-hung window. The parapet wall that obscures the shed roof does not continue around to this rear elevation.

The north elevation is dominated by a large end-wall brick chimney. There are two 6x6 sash windows on the west side of the chimney. One window is a simple wooden design and the other is metal.

The interior of the Portia Club has an area of approximately 2,250 square feet, with just over half of it comprised of the main hall. The main hall holds 1,290 square feet and prominently features a stage at the south end. The stage measures approximately 18 feet in length by 13 feet in depth, with an elevation above the main hall finished floor of approximately two feet. The face of the stage has rounded plaster molding around the edge with three large storage compartments below the raised stage floor. The stage has two doors at the rear on the southeast and southwest comers. The southwest corner originally housed the kitchen, but has served as storage since the kitchen addition was built. The interior walls are simple lath and plaster in poor condition. Current restoration efforts are replacing it with drywall. The ceiling trusses are made of wood and appear to be 2"x 12" fir. The support beams for the trusses also appear to be fir and are either constructed as a lamination of four, 2"x 12"5 or as solid beams. There is a fireplace on the north wall that is currently being reconstructed. The firebox condition is good, but the hearth and all decorative parts have been removed for restoration. (2010)

The kitchen addition area of the Portia Club is 352 square feet. The remaining space houses storage, utility, and two restrooms.

The Period of Significance (POS), 1927-1959, encompasses the date of original construction of the building, and ends 50 years prior to the preparation of this nomination. The Portia Club was still active and meeting in 1965 when the advancing age of its members made maintenance of the building difficult for them. They sold the structure with a stipulation that they could continue to use the space for monthly meetings as well as two additional days per month, The group formally disbanded in 1972 as members dwindled and new members were hard to find.

The Portia Club, a women's social club in Payette, Idaho, was established in 1895, by a small group of women who came together for "mutual improvement and social benefit." The ladies first met in members' homes and named their group for the wise young judge, their heroine of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. The group's early mission was limited in scope, but it eventually evolved into a powerful club with a variety of active committees addressing local issues such as conservation, legislation, education, health, and park and village improvement. The women of the Portia Club were instrumental in addressing local issues important in the welfare of individuals and their community at large. The Portia Club building, where the group met for over 40 years, stands as testament to their commitment and determination.

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