2006 Heritage Homes Tour

Heritage Homes Tour 2006 - Harrison Boulevard

Harrison Boulevard

Boise’s Harrison Boulevard Historic District, a street central to the development of Idaho’s capital city, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of both its architecture and history. The over 130 homes that line this street range in date from 1901 through the present. The vast majority were constructed before 1942.

Following the pattern of popularity established by both Grove Street and Warm Springs Avenue as the addresses of choice among Boise’s elite, Harrison Boulevard was originally known as 17th Street in Boise’s Brumback Addition. A visit by President Benjamin Harrison in 1891 spurred the city to rename the street in his honor. Despite this visit and the efforts of Boise’s most successful developer, W. E. Pierce, the boulevard remained uninhabited until 1901. However, Harrison was soon pulsing with the energy of new development, and its important residents demanded street improvements and beautification projects. Their lobbying resulted in the dedication of a new park in 1911 at the southern end of the boulevard named for city councilman Ernest H. McAuley, and in 1916, the street received its most easily recognized asset, the landscaped central median with its now historic lamps.

Harrison Boulevard’s elite reputation stemmed from its ability to attract the most important people in Boise’s business and political circles. The street has been home to Jack Simplot, Harry Morrison, and Bill Agee, as well as Idaho Governors Davis and Baldridge. Idaho Supreme Court Justices and at least three Boise mayors lived beside engineers, attorneys, physicians, and dentists. This democratic street has also been home to salesmen, seamstresses, musicians, and laborers. The varied occupants of Harrison Boulevard constructed homes in varied architectural styles. The boulevard includes Queen Annes, Craftsman Bungalows, Neoclassical and Georgian Revivals, Tudor Revival cottages, Spanish and Dutch Colonials, and even a rare example of Art Moderne. These diverse styles are found in homes both large and small along the length of the street.

As the 1989 publication of Harrison Boulevard reminds us, the street helped create and sharpen an image for the frontier city of Boise, and it became a symbol of gentility, prosperity, and social status. Despite this rising status, the North End remained socially mixed and architecturally diverse. The great range of styles and sizes of neighborhood housing was vivid on Harrison Boulevard. Here, in the shade of some of the city’s finest trees, ornate Queen Annes faced modest cottages, and imposing Colonials stood near simple Bungalows. Harrison blended old and new with big and small, and displayed the wide diversity of a fashionable neighborhood where comfortable homes on wooded drives were within the reach of the aspiring middle class.

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