Since 1896, the Almon and Mary Spaulding Ranch has stood near the north end of Cole Road, its historic farmstead surrounded by nearly 20 acres of irrigated pasture. This iconic place on the Boise Bench is now threatened with subdivision and development for tract housing.
Few driving by the last farmstead on Cole Road know its history (pdf, 9.3MB)—even fewer know that the farmstead and its pasturage are protected and why that protection is vulnerable. In the early 1990s, then-owner Katherine Caron faced the distinct possibility that her land would be seized by the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) through eminent domain and converted into a corridor connecting Glenwood Street and Cole Road. ACHD had determined that the last vestige of farmland in a neighborhood once comprised almost exclusively of farms should be sacrificed to the region’s transportation needs.
In an attempt to fight for her open space, Caron successfully listed the farmstead and its pasture in the National Register of Historic Places, and appealed to the City of Boise for designation as a locally zoned historic district. In 1996, one hundred years after the ranch was established, it became the seventh such district in the city. According to the city, the ranch is significant for “its association with the early settlement and development of Boise. As the last full visual testament to the early history of Boise's West Bench, it provides a reminder of the area's agricultural legacy. What was once all rural, farmland has long been consumed by Boise's creeping urban development, but the Spaulding Ranch continues to stand as a record of our past.”
When Caron and her family sold the property it was purchased by a developer intent on replacing open space with housing. Though Northside Management has proposed to leave 5 acres of the site (including the farmstead) intact, 15 acres or 75 percent of the parcel would become housing. Now Northside Management must convince the Boise Historic Preservation Commission and the Boise City Council that the subdivision and development of this historic district is in the best interest of the city and the site itself.
Preservation Idaho believes that the site should be preserved intact, but we need the public’s help to convince the developer and the City of Boise. We are hosting a public meeting for you to learn the facts of Spaulding Ranch—its history, how it is protected, why it is threatened, and what action you can take to see it preserved.
Update - January 2013
As 2013 begins, Preservation Idaho anticipates many opportunities for you to voice your interest in the long-term preservation and use of Cole Road’s Spaulding Ranch. The first of those opportunities is when the West Bench Neighborhood Association (WBNA) meets to decide its role in the proposed development. At their meeting on January 16th at 7:00 PM at the Cole and Ustick Branch of the Boise Public Library, the WBNA will determine whether they intend to support or oppose the development proposal of Northside Management.
Preservation Idaho hosted a public meeting on December 13th in which we voiced our perspective on the proposed development and our intention to work through the process to see the historic district remain intact. Over 100 attendees filled the venue to capacity, marking a distinct interest by the public in this issue.
As this process continues, we will keep you up to date on the issue and how you can be involved, but we cannot protect Spaulding Ranch without your help. Your membership in the organization enables us to respond to advocacy issues such as these and funds the vital work we do both in Boise and around the state. Please consider joining us today – http://www.preservationidaho.org/support-us.
Update - May 2013
At their meeting on January 16th, members of the West Bench Neighborhood Association (WBNA) voted to oppose the development proposal of Northside Management. Since that vote, no further formal action on the issue has taken place. Northside Management, which originally brought forward a proposal to redevelop Spaulding Ranch in November of 2012, has made no formal application to the City of Boise. Without an application and its approval, the development cannot proceed. Preservation Idaho is optimistic that this unexpected delay is a positive sign for the long-term preservation of both the farmstead and its surrounding acreage, but we remain vigilant and will notify our members and the public should the situation change.
For additional information, contact us at 208-424-5111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.