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Medallion, Panels, Walking Tour Celebrate 80th Anniversary of FDR Visit to Boise


September 27, 2017 will be the 80th anniversary of FDR's visit to Boise. - SAM WONACOTT
  • Sam Wonacott
  • September 27, 2017 will be the 80th anniversary of FDR's visit to Boise.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Boise on his way to dedicate the Bonneville Dam in Oregon on Sept. 27, 1937, he spoke glowingly of the children who watched the presidential motorcade wend through leafy neighborhoods. Thanks to the initial efforts of Boise residents David Klinger and Andy Brunelle, a three-year effort to commemorate the visit is coming together—just in time for the 80th anniversary on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

The commemoration includes a bronze medallion placed in the ground in Cecil Andrus Capitol Park, where the president gave a short speech before 15,000 people, and a series of interpretive panels set off from the sidewalk along the route traveled by the presidential motorcade. The Boise City Department of Arts & History is responsible for the creation of the panels. The displays, including explanatory text and historical photographs of the visit, are installed at 13th and Fort streets and outside of Roosevelt Elementary School. The city's Arts & History Department worked with the North End and East End neighborhood associations to plan the project. The Arts & History department oversaw the historical research, sign design, fabrication and installation. Stephanie Inman designed the signs and Trademark Sign Company fabricated and installed the signs.

The focus of the panels is on the themes of the speech given by Roosevelt outside of the Capitol and the impact of the New Deal on the city.

"The words spoken by the president are timeless and they are words that anyone and everyone can agree on," Klinger said. "This is an example of a small project that pays tribute to the lasting significance of presidential words."

According to Klinger, the project came together, in large part, because of an outpouring of support from the community. After putting out a call for photos of FDR's visit in the Idaho Statesman in 2016, Klinger said 15-20 people contacted him with photographs and memories.

"A lot of residents have opened up their scrapbooks and photo albums to us, and loaned us photos," said Klinger. "They remember as little kids standing out in front of their schools in Boise watching the president and Mrs. Roosevelt drive by, and it made an impact."

Although FDR's speech at the Capitol was short, Klinger believes the president touched on issues still relevant to Boise residents.

"Those words really resonate today. The values he picked up on—the next generation, children, trees, the value of community and vibrant neighborhoods—those are all values that people are articulating today, eighty years later," said Klinger. "Roosevelt just said them a lot earlier than we did."

A pamphlet containing historical information and a walking tour of the route followed by the presidential motorcade will be available at Goody’s Soda Fountain in Hyde Park on Wednesday.
  • City of Boise Arts and History Department

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