CASA GRANDE -- If the house at 1300 E. McMurray Blvd. was a person, it would be the warm, welcoming family member known for greeting visitors with a meal and a kind word.
Historic and unique, the 3,415-square-foot house is soon going to be up for sale.
And for Angela Bolt, who lived much of her life in the house designed by her mother, selling it is like saying goodbye to a family member.
“It will be sad once it’s sold,” she said. “We will never be able to drive up and walk in the back door into the kitchen like so many of our friends have done in the past. But I know that if people truly love this house, it will love you back with great memories.”
Bolt and her late husband purchased the house from her father, Max Nichols, in 2001, about a year after her mother, Nora Nichols, died.
Nora helped to design the ranch-style house with engineers Lois and Ben Wulze when it was built in 1958.
Although there are plenty of houses around it now, at the time it was built, that section of McMurray Boulevard was a dirt road and there were no other houses nearby.
“The house became known as the old Nichols place,” Bolt said. “Originally, the five acres were bought from Mickey McNatt, who farmed down the road. It was the last house on McMurray starting from Pueblo Drive, which was a dirt canal back then. Colorado was a dirt road to Florence Boulevard.”
While Bolt’s mother Nora loved the entire house, she spent much of her time in the kitchen.
“She loved to cook and teach anyone willing to learn how to make her favorite dishes,” Bolt said. “She could cook anything.”
She was known for her curry chicken with roti, green chile with homemade tortillas, Chinese food, tamales and various desserts.
“The list of what she could make was endless,” Bolt said.
But her yard, with its plants, trees and landscaping, was her favorite part of the home.
“She would constantly be outside watering and praying. That was her quiet time,” Bolt said. “Jokingly, I would tell people that every time she argued with my dad, she would plant a tree. They would comment, they sure did argue a lot.”
When it was originally built, the home had its own well for water. Although the home is now on city water, the well is still in working condition and is used to irrigate the yard and its original Christmas trees.
Nora’s influence in designing the house is found in many of the special features it was built with, including a full-house NuTone intercom system. The intercom system installed in the 1950s was updated recently with a more modern version.
Many of the details Nora put into the home made it special, Bolt said.
“The house had a pink bathroom with a built-in shampoo bowl,” Bolt said. “Mom would have people come to the house to do our hair.”
The bathroom for the boys was painted blue. The girls’ bathroom was pink and the master bathroom was a shrimp color, according to Bolt.
The colored tile was replaced with travertine when it was updated.
“The back room bathroom was used for school experiments, fermenting pomegranate wine, feeding goats and raising a new pup now and then. It definitely was a multi-use bathroom. It too was replaced with travertine,” Bolt said.
Max Nichols was a longtime Casa Grande farmer. He joined the farming operation started by Nora’s father, Diwan Singh, in the late 1940s, farming plots in the Casa Grande and Eloy areas.
“The Korean War had ended in 1953 and the price of cotton was high to where Max and Nora’s CPA, Wes Johnson, suggested they build a home in town,” Bolt said.
While Max worked two farms, Nora stayed busy raising a family.
Bolt was in kindergarten at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School when the house was being constructed. She remembers her mother often picking her up from school and taking her to meetings with electricians, plumbers and others involved in building the house.
“All the light fixtures came from Hinkley’s on Central in Phoenix,” she said. “Back then, there were no Lowe’s or Home Depots. The I-10 freeway had not been built yet — so it was a long drive to Phoenix. The original furniture came from Barrow in Phoenix. All the burnt adobe came from Sasabe, Arizona. Originally, the shake wood roof came from Washington state and Oregon.”
The home’s three-way fireplace was built with flagstone from across the country and the framing was done with 2-by-4-inch Douglas fir.
“I once asked my mom what she truly wanted to be if she wasn’t a wife or mother. She said she wanted to be an engineer and build bridges,” Bolt said. “She was a genius. She was an outstanding cook, seamstress, bookkeeper, gardener, accomplished pianist and architect. She was a wonderful mom and grandma and so much fun. She would not think twice to pack the car up and take us to Disneyland.”
When Bolt began renovating the home in 2001, wood floors and a salt water pool, both suggested by her husband Joel Bolt, were installed.
Max Nichols and Joel Bolt died in 2008.
Bolt said her father lived to see the updates to the home.
“His only comment was, ‘I wish your mother was here to see her home,’” Bolt said. “Overall, it was and still is a great and one-of-a-kind home.”
The home is co-listed with Colleen Bechtel and Kristee Vanderheyden of Keller Williams Legacy One Realty.