You might know that Lewiston was Idaho's capital for a short time before Boise took over, and you might know that the architect behind the design of Boise's capitol building was actually from Connecticut.  But there's a lot more to revisit about Boise's past that might surprise you. 

I'm always looking for ways to outsmart the kids when they bring home their fancy school facts and quiz me at dinner, and in my most recent internet quest for knowledge, I ran across quite a few interesting tidbits about Boise that I didn't know.

Maybe you've lived here all of your life and you're well-versed in Treasure Valley history, and if that's the case this will be a good refresher so you can be even more confident in your dinnertime answers.

1. Construction on the capitol building started in the summer of 1905, and that was about fifteen years Idaho became a state.  The architects were John E. Tourtellotte and Charles Hummel, and Tourtellotte was from Connecticut. said Toutellotte's career didn't take off until he moved to Boise.  The capitol building was completed in 1920.  It took fifteen years to build, and now we just drive by real quick thinking about what we're going to make for dinner.  If it were a rose, we should stop and smell it.

2.  The Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site was a working prison from 1872 to 1973, and held some of the most "desperate" criminals in the West, according to its website.  If you've visited, you've seen a century's worth of cell blocks, solitary confinement quarters, historic buildings, and the Gallows.

3.  Julia Davis Park was formed after land from Thomas Jefferson Davis was donated in 1907.  It's one of several parks in the “String of Pearls”, and that's the group of parks operated by the Boise Parks and Rec along the Boise River.

4.  Other cities have history, but perhaps none as rich as what the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial includes.  There are more than sixty quotes from leaders and human rights figures including poets, activists, politicians, and diplomats, those who survived the Holocaust.  They were overcomers, and their stories have helped the memorial earn an official “Site of Conscience” designation.

5.  Before it was the Idaho Botanical Garden, it was a farm and nursery for the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. After the penitentiary was closed, there was nothing on the land until the Idaho Botanical Garden opened in 1984.  On opening day, Boise industrialist Jack Simplot planted the first tree and the huge northern red oak is still standing in the Meditation Garden.

Take that, kids!  Oh, who am I kidding... They probably know it all already, because they're in school and all.  But it's still fun to revisit the history and appreciate what we have in Boise, and much of it is approaching its 100th anniversary.

Something to keep in mind next time you drive by.

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