Ribbon of Jewels

Ribbon of Jewels:  A Celebration of Great Boise Parks 

The Boise River Greenbelt provides the uniting ribbon that links these jewels-the precious deeded commodities given to the city to celebrate the names of Boise's finest patron ladies and their parks. Ribbon of Jewels Brochure (PDF).

Alta Harris Park

AltaHarris.jpgAs a 21-year-old woman, Alta Harris traveled with her adventurous husband, Dallas, from Smithville, Oklahoma to Idaho in 1939 and embraced the rolling hills and wildflowers that would color her landscape for the next seven decades. Dallas and Alta marveled at Idaho’s trees and land.  Their vision to develop this richness began with a sawmill in the Thorn Creek area near Idaho City, 26 miles northeast of Boise. In 1950, they moved the sawmill to the Boise area, calling it Harris Brothers Lumber Company, eventually becoming Producers Lumber Company and then they began acquiring land in East Boise along the Boise River. There they established a ranch raising Hereford cattle, which still operates today.  The real estate development project, Harris Ranch, takes its name from this family enterprise.  Dallas and Alta were true partners in business and life. Alta invested energy in civic and religious activities such as promoting Christian education. The park site is along the Boise River in the Harris Ranch development.  Amenities in this 20-acre park will include sports fields, walking paths, a plaza and parking.

Ann Morrison Park

annmorrisonbio.gifAnna Daly grew up in the mountains of Idaho and came to Boise when she was 16 years old.  She married Harry W. Morrison, founder of the Morrison-Knudsen Company, in 1914. As the first lady of construction, she traveled with her husband to projects throughout the world. The guest of presidents, kings, and diplomats, Ann Morrison did not let the brilliance and pageantry of her life change her.  She was known locally for her great civic interest and friendliness.  She died in October 1957. Ann Morrison Park was developed and then deeded to the city of Boise by the Harry W. Morrison Foundation on June 7, 1959.  That day, thousands of residents came out to see the 153-acre park which serves as a place of beauty, rest, and recreation for generations. The park features a large fountain, Candy Cane Playground, tennis courts, lighted softball diamonds, soccer and lacrosse fields, a disc golf course, and a picnic pavilion.  All provide many leisure opportunities for visitors.  The Greenbelt borders the park along the river. Ann Morrison Park is located on the south bank of the Boise River between Capitol and Americana Boulevards.

Bethine Church River Trail

bethinechurch.jpgA 1.6-mile section of the Greenbelt in a natural area on the Boise River is named for Bethine Church, a native Idahoan, civic leader, humanitarian and conservationist. Bethine was born in 1923 to Jean Burnett and Chase Clark, who homesteaded on the Salmon River.  Her father served as a governor and a federal judge in Idaho. She attended Boise Junior College and graduated in 1945 from the University of Michigan.  As a student at Boise High School, she met Frank Church, whom she married in 1947 at the Robinson Bar Ranch.  In 1956, Frank was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served for 24 years as a member of the Foreign Relations and Interior Committees. Together, the Churches worked diligently to conserve public lands.  Bethine Church passed away at the age of 90 on December 21, 2013.  She was the founder and former president of the Sawtooth Society, established to protect the Sawtooth National Recreation Areas.  She served as a member of the Idaho Conservation League and on the governing council of The Wilderness Society. The author of “A Lifelong Affair: My Passion for People and Politics,” Bethine received an honorary doctorate degree from Boise State University and in 2009, she was awarded the Bob Marshall Award  which is the Wilderness Society’s highest honor.

Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park


bernardinequinnbio.jpgA native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Bernardine “Bee Bee” Schilling moved to Boise in 1910 after her father established a cleaning supply firm in the City of Trees.  A graduate of St. Teresa’s Academy, Bernardine later served as secretary of the Boise Chamber of Commerce. In 1924, Bernardine married Maurice Harold Quinn, founder of the Quinn Robbins construction company.  The land for the park sits on the site of the company’s gravel operation and was donated to the city in 1997. A long-time member of the Catholic Women’s League, Bernardine was active in the church throughout her life.  She was also involved in civic organizations, including the Silver Sage Council of the Girl Scouts and St. Alphonsus Hospital. Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park is dominated by a 22-acre pond.  Amenities include fishing docks and open space. The Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park is north of the Boise River adjacent to the Greenbelt and Pleasanton Avenue.

Dona Larsen Park

Donna Larsen 300Dpi BW RetThe site of the old East Junior High School is a Boise State University-owned park named for former teacher and coach Dona Larsen. Thanks to a donation of $2.5 million from the David and Debra Larsen Huber Family Foundation, the 14.5-acre site near the corner of Broadway and Warm Springs Avenues is a multi-use sports complex. Dona Larsen, who is the mother of Debra Larsen Huber, has been an active member of the Boise community since 1956, when she and her husband, Dorrell, moved to the Treasure Valley. A stay-at-home mother raising her 10 children, Dona also spent seven years running the girls’ summer softball and basketball programs for Boise City Recreation, and coaching her children’s teams. She began teaching physical education full time at East Junior High in 1970, as well as coaching girls’ track and volleyball.  Dona retired in 2000 at the age of 72. The site of the new Dona Larsen Park originally was an athletic field named Cody Park, built in 1911.  The Boise School District purchased the land in 1924 and renamed it Public School Field.  The field was used for many noteworthy events until the construction of the original East Junior High School in 1953.

Esther Simplot Park

esthersimplotbio.jpgSince moving to Boise in 1972 as the wife of industrialist J. R. Simplot, Esther Simplot has become synonymous with the performing arts in Boise. Her untiring devotion and commitment have included co-founding the Boise Opera Company and construction in 1992 of the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy and the Academy Annex in 1996. Esther formed an early appreciation of the arts in her home state of Wisconsin and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Indiana with a degree in music.  She subsequently moved to New York City where she performed with the Riverside Church Choir, the Canterbury Chorale, the Master Chorale, and sang at Carnegie Recital Hall and at the World’s Fair. Together with her late husband, Esther has sponsored artistic efforts which have enriched the lives of performers and audiences alike throughout the Treasure Valley. Esther Simplot Park is located north of the Boise River between Fairview Avenue and Veterans Parkway. It is one of the largest of the city’s parks and includes fishing ponds, recreation areas, shelters, open sace and other amenities.

Julia Davis Park

JDbio.gifJulia McCrumb came to the Boise Valley from Ontario, Canada, to visit relatives in the summer of 1869.  Two years later, she and Tom Davis were married.  The Davises owned thousands of acres of agricultural land, including property along the Boise River. Known for her kindness and gracious hospitality, Julia would welcome and assist travelers as they stopped their wagons along the river to rest from their journeys across the high desert.  She became ill after helping someone and died in the autumn of 1907. Tom Davis deeded to the city of Boise about 40 acres of land in memory of his wife.  Since then, the park has grown to 87 acres within the heart of the city. Julia Davis Park is a favorite of residents and visitors alike.  The playground, rose garden, band shell, shaded grounds and river are only part of its appeal.  Zoo Boise, Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Historical Museum, Discovery Center of Idaho and the Idaho Black History Museum offer cultural and scientific enrichment as well. The park is situated on the north bank of the Boise River across from Boise State University between Capitol Boulevard and Broadway Avenue.

Kathryn Albertson Park

KAbioKathryn McCurry, a Boise native, met her future husband Joe Albertson, founder of Albertsons, Inc., at the College of Idaho. She spilled an acid solution on her leg in a chemistry class and Joe came to her rescue.  They were married on New Year’s Day in 1930. Kathryn’s unassuming attitude kept her out of the spotlight, but not from being the light in many lives.  Her inner strength and caring were legendary – as were the Albertsons’ generous donations to the College of Idaho, Boise State University, and other institutions. Dedicated on October 17, 1989, Kathryn Albertson Park was donated to Boise and the people of Idaho by Joe and Kathryn Albertson–a unique and precious treasure. The park was designed to be an attractive home for resident and migratory wildlife in downtown Boise.  It features wide, paved footpaths winding through the sanctuary.  Highlights include outdoor gazebos, a fountain, a cross-section of the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine and glimpses of wildlife. Kathryn Albertson Park is located south of the Boise River across Americana Boulevard from Ann Morrison Park.

KA Medals2 Bw SmKristin Armstrong Municipal Park

Kristin Armstrong is a professional road cyclist that started her Team USA journey at 17 as a Junior Olympian in swimming. Since then, Kristin has achieved a great deal including completing the Hawaii Ironman World Championship as a triathlete, as well as overcoming a career ending diagnosis of osteoarthritis by turning to cycling as therapy. Kristin won U.S. Olympic Gold Medals in the Time Trial (2008, 2012, 2016), three World Titles, five National Championships and numerous other victories. 

Marianne Williams Park

mariannewilliamsbio.jpgAn Idaho native, Marianne Williams moved with her husband, Larry Williams, and their young family from Midvale, Idaho to Boise in 1966. Marianne Williams has dedicated her time and energies to her family and to various civic activities benefiting theTreasure Valley.  She has volunteered her services to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, has worked to enrich the lives of senior citizens as the manager of a senior citizen complex, and, along with her husband, actively supports numerous other civic organizations--often electing to do so anonymously. Together with her husband, Marianne has played a vital role in the support of collegiate athletics at Boise State University, and has served on the Bronco Athletic Association Board of Directors. Marianne Williams has made significant contributions to the success of the businesses that she and Larry have founded, including Tree Top Ranches and Idaho Timber Corporation. The site of the 70-acre Marianne Williams Park is on the north side of the Boise River adjacent to Harris Ranch in the Barber Valley.  Donated in November 2005 by Larry Williams in honor of Marianne, the riverside park features manicured green space, paved pathways, an extension of the Boise River Greenbelt and natural open space areas.