Boise is known as the City of Trees, and one man had a lot to do with that title. Walter Pierce planted 7,000 trees in Boise. One of the neighborhoods he built, and some of his trees, will be part of a tour this weekend.
Walter Pierce was a land locator and surveyor in the late 1800s. When he started a business in Boise in 1890 he platted several Boise neighborhoods, including Elm Grove Park west of Harrison Boulevard in the North End.
Paula Benson is with Preservation Idaho, a nonprofit that works to preserve the state’s historic places. She says when Pierce built the neighborhood and Elm Grove Park, it went from ranch land to become Boise’s early suburbia. And suburbs need trees. So, Benson says, Pierce planted a lot of them.
“Seven thousand trees, all around Boise and you can see, you know, we are the City of Trees here, so you can see a lot of those trees were probably planted in his era,” says Benson.
Pierce also built the Hoff Building. Benson says Pierce platted subdivisions and sold real estate all over town.
“He did promote the paving of Boise streets, he was involved in civic affairs, and he served as the Mayor. So he’s really a central figure to a lot of what the vision of Boise has become,” says Benson.
Preservation Idaho is hosting its Heritage Homes Tour of the Elm Grove Park Neighborhood Sunday. The neighborhood was built by Pierce in 1911. He also built Elm Grove Park, which was sold to the City in 1920. It boasts some of the oldest trees in Boise. Benson says people can check out some of Boise’s history, shaped by Walter Pierce, on the tour.
One of the homes on the tour boasts the tallest and oldest black oak in the city, planted in 1921.
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