Jane Austen Romance in Boise’s Collister Neighborhood
By Nicole Sharp, Photography by Mark Dyrud
Enchanting Objects is an antique store at Collister and State Street that was established in 2007 by Lori Kerby and Lesli Fieselman. The store showcases carefully displayed treasures from bygone days: gorgeous repurposed furniture, funky junk, and everything a Pinterest user and “green” shopper could hope to find. The yard is staged with vignettes of antiques; to the left of the house stands one of the oldest outdoor fireplaces in Boise. The whole property is shaded by hundred-year-old elm trees and an air of delight.
I recently came across a rumor that Better Homes and Gardens wrote about the house in the early part of the 1900s. In an attempt to find that one article, I’ve found a story about love, loss, gardens, and Boise.
In 1896 Edward J. Frawley, 23 years old, moved from Wisconsin to Boise with his law degree. In 1898, he was elected prosecuting attorney for Ada County, and he stood in high regard to those he worked with and in the community. Edward married three times in his life. The first marriage in 1899, was to 19-year old Evangeline Traphina Rodgers of Blackfoot, Idaho. Together they had one son, Edward George Frawley. The story took a scandalous turn on December 11, 1910, when Eva divorced Edward and quietly eloped with J. H. Peterson.
In 1911, Mr. Frawley was married again to Mary Osborne, an old friend from Wisconsin. The couple was highly regarded and often written up in the society pages. Tragedy struck in 1914 when Mary passed away from burns that were caused “by an explosion of gasoline fumes at her home” as reported by the Idaho Daily Statesman on September 9, 1914.
Ten years later, at age 51, Mr. Frawley married Levena C. Jennings, age 42. Vena, as she was known to her friends, moved to Boise in 1914. She never had children and worked as a corset saleswoman. The marriage had a small announcement in the paper followed by the information that the couple would be living in the country house at Collister Station, 4906. W. State Street today.
From 1925 until she passed away, the Idaho Statesman regularly reported on “huge garden parties” at the Frawley House, where “the lawn was brightly decorated with lighted lanterns and a fire burned in the huge outdoor fireplace.” Guests often enjoying the rose garden, the bog garden, and a swimming pool.
In 1949, Mr. Frawley passed away of a heart attack. He was 76 years old. Vena continued cultivating her garden as the Collister Station became Highway 44, then Valle Road, and finally State Street. In 1952, Vena married again, to Henry Denis. “The Elms” continued to be a showplace, and Vena was a sought after hostess.
In 1966, Henry passed away, followed three years later by Vena on July 26, 1969.
Still, the house that saw so much laughter and love continues to enchant us today. Stop by and take a look for yourself: Who knows? \Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of Vena following up on her legacy.