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Two years after fire, work progresses on upgraded Gene Harris Bandshell

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Work on the Gene Harris Bandshell in Julia Davis Park ramped up this spring. Boise Parks & Rec officials hope to have it back up and running this summer.

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An arsonist started a fire in the historic building two years ago this week, on April 23rd of 2018.

Since then, a temporary fence surrounded the 92-year-old structure.

The city decided to make some upgrades to the building along with fixing the fire damage. Crews will build new restrooms, audio/visual equipment, upgraded lighting and an accessible seating area. An earlier idea for a new shade structure will wait right now due to budget figures.

“We were making great progress on the bandshell until the stay at home (order) was implemented,” Boise Parks and Recreation Department Director Doug Holloway said. “Even though construction projects were exempted from the Governor’s order, we deemed this project to be non-essential at the time and hence halted construction, at least for a short time.  

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He thinks work could restart soon, and hopes to have it back up and running in July.

Bandshell a Boise icon

Crews built the Julia Davis Park Bandshell in 1928, according to Boise State Public Radio. Leaders held a large community celebration to commemorate the opening. BSPR said architects drew inspiration from the nearby Boise Depot and its Spanish Mission styling.

The open-air stage hosted hundreds of community events over the years, including as a central focus for the Boise River Festival.

Leaders renamed the structure in honor of long-time Idahoan Gene Harris in 2001. The renowned jazz musician died the previous year.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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