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Mr. Spud's Boise Mansion Soon to Be No More

Idaho billionaire's grand plans never quite materialized
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2016 7:56 AM CST
Updated Jan 9, 2016 1:35 PM CST
Mr. Spud's Boise Mansion Soon to Be No More
This July 5, 2012 file photo shows the late J.R. Simplot's former home on a grassy hilltop overlooking Boise.   (Betsy Russell/The Spokesman-Review via AP, File)

It's the end of an era for Boise, Idaho. The hilltop mansion that once belonged to potato billionaire JR Simplot will soon be gone, the Idaho Statesman reports. Demolition started Sunday and should be wrapped up in 10 days. But the 30-foot-by-50-foot US flag flying some 200 feet above the property will remain, a Simplot family spokesman says. The flag, a neighbor tells KTVB, serves as an indicator of blustery weather: "That sucker makes noise." Simplot built the massive house located off Bogus Basin Road in 1979. In 2004, per the Statesman, he donated it to the state to serve as the permanent governor's mansion. That never happened and, the AP reports, the mansion came to be regarded as a "money pit" ($30,000 each year to keep the lights on; $12,000 for janitorial services).

In 2013, the state gave the house and grounds back to the Simplot family. No one in the family wanted to live there, the spokesman tells the Statesman, "so it was agreed that … taking it down was the best option.” Fixtures, furniture, and appliances were donated to the Idaho Youth Ranch, he says. And, for the moment, the family has no plans for how to use the land. Simplot, who died in 2008 at age 99, was worth $3.6 billion, according to an obituary in the New York Times. Despite once reportedly saying, "Hell, you freeze spuds and they will go to mush," Simplot made a fortune, per the Times, supplying frozen French fries to McDonald's, among other enterprises. The license plate on his Lincoln town car read "Mr. Spud." (An old castle might be coming down soon, too, though not on purpose.)

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