Have you ever wondered about the history behind the names of Boise’s landmarks? Why historic buildings are called “Empire,” “Hoff” or “Adelmann?” Who the women were for whom nine public parks were named? If you enjoy history mixed with a nice walk, a game or a bike ride, give the Julia Davis Park tours a try. You are sure to get your questions about this park’s namesake answered.
Three Julia Davis Park tours are available:
— A self-guided walking tour and game you can play any time using a free, downloadable smartphone application, “Quest for the Golden Apple.”
— A bicycle tour covering what were once the Davis apple orchards (bring your own bike and helmet and pick up a tour summary from the docents).
— A walking tour, guided by a knowledgeable docent. Held on the first Thursday of the month during the summer, the docent-led tours leave from the Sacajawea monument on the plaza of the Idaho State Historical Museum at 5:30 p.m. and last about one hour. Remaining dates this summer are September 6 and October 4.
During the tours, you will learn about the rich history of Julia Davis Park and the Davis family. Here’s a taste.
Tom Davis came to the area in search of gold, but made his fortune supplying miners with food he grew, instead. He and Julia met while Julia was visiting from Ontario, Canada, and they later married. Julia was known for her kindness and gracious hospitality toward emigrants traveling on the Oregon Trail. Tom was one of Boise’s founding fathers, helping to plat the city in 1863. The Davis family grew fruit, raised livestock, ran a dairy and helped build the first irrigation canal in the Boise Valley. Their hard work, generosity and desire to create a thriving community brought about many improvements for the citizens of Boise.
After Julia’s death in 1907, Tom deeded 43 acres of property to the city in her memory and required that the land would forever be used for public park purposes. Today Julia Davis Park is home to the Rose Garden, Zoo Boise, Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Historical Museum, Idaho Black History Museum, The Cabin Literary Center and Discovery Center of Idaho. The Gene Harris Band Shell, playground, lagoon and Boise River Greenbelt are popular with residents and visitors alike.
Walking through the park, trying to imagine the landscape that surrounded Tom and Julia, it is easy to feel thankful for the generosity of those who came before and appreciate their vision of building solid institutions and providing verdant open space for future Boiseans and visitors to enjoy.
Guest Blogger, Diane Ronayne