A Boise landmark is fully restored and ready to play host to community events. Mayor Lauren McLean, the Boise City Council and leaders from the Boise Parks and Recreation Department gathered at Julia Davis Park this afternoon to dedicate the refurbished Gene Harris Bandshell. Due to the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the event was live streamed to promote the health and safety of the community. You can watch the dedication, including a special performance by musician Curtis Stigers, anytime on the City of Boise’s YouTube page.
“The Gene Harris Bandshell is an important piece of Boise history and I’m so pleased with the upgrades to the building and performance stage that not only make it a world class venue, but an accessible one for everyone who visits,” said Mayor McLean. “This gathering place, located right in the heart of Boise, is an incredible community asset and we look forward to the return of safe events and entertainment this summer.”
Following a fire that badly damaged the structure in 2018, the bandshell is fully refurbished. Improvements include new restrooms and drinking fountains, new stage decking and improvements to audio and visual equipment for performances, including state-of-the-art lighting. Accessible concrete paths have been added in front of the bandshell to accommodate concert goers of all abilities.
“In addition to restoring the historic aspects of the bandshell including the Spanish revival roof, we were also able to make some significant upgrades to the facility that will make it a performance and event destination for years to come,” added Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “The restoration was time consuming, but our team was determined to work with contractors to make sure it was done thoughtfully and with respect for the history of this Boise landmark.”
Following some short remarks and a ribbon cutting, Boise musician Curtis Stigers helped dedicate the bandshell with a series of songs inspired by the bandshell’s namesake, jazz musician Gene Harris. Harris was a well-known blues, soul, and bebop artist. Following his semiretirement in 1977, Harris moved to Boise where his recording career took on new life when he signed with Concord Records in the mid-80s, according to an article by the New York Times. Sadly, Harris passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 66 – that same year, the bandshell was renamed in his honor.
The Gene Harris Bandshell is available for special event reservations following all current state and local health orders. Call 208-608-7600 or email for additional information.
HISTORY OF THE GENE HARRIS BANDSHELL – BOISE CITY DEPARTMENT OF ARTS & HISTORY
The original contract for the bandshell was awarded in April of 1928. The bandshell was designed by the Wayland & Fennel architectural firm and was constructed in a mission revival style with a stucco exterior. Its style was likely inspired by the construction of the Boise Depot in 1925. When the depot was completed, it inspired a flurry of commercial and residential structures in a similar style.
The bandshell was dedicated on Sunday, July 8, 1928 with remarks from former mayor Eugene B. Sherman and Mayor Walter Hansen. The audience enjoyed several solo songs from Mrs. Rosene, several pieces of music played the Boise Male Quartet, and a band program that played about twelve songs with an intermission. A crowd of 2,000 people watched, sitting on the grass, or parked in their automobiles.
The bandshell was renamed the Gene Harris Bandshell in the year 2000, in honor of the American jazz pianist who loved playing there.