What was there before Whole Foods?

2011 Google Maps aerial view of the corner of Myrtle and Broadway
As the City of Boise welcomes a new grocery store to the corner of Broadway and Front Street, Special Collections takes a moment to reflect on the history of this corner lot. Since the 1970s, the lot contained between Front and Myrtle, Broadway and S. Ave B, was mostly vacant – abandoned warehouses and a dirt lot.

The concrete slabs, which are now under the Whole Foods building, were once part of the headquarters for the Morrison-Knudsen Construction Company. From the 1930s to the 1970s, M-K operated a worldwide civil engineering and construction management firm from this location.

Harry Morrison, president of the company, was a big supporter of Boise Junior College and an original trustee. In the photo below, the B.J.C marching band, directed by John Best (center in white), thank Mr. Morrison (on the right) as part of Harry Morrison Appreciation Day – November 5th, 1958. In the background is M-K headquarters and current location of Whole Foods. From this angle, Broadway Avenue is just behind the machine shop.

Harry W. Morrison Appreciation Day
In the early 1970s M-K moved its headquarters across Broadway Avenue to what is now the URS building. The U.S. Forest Service took over ownership of the buildings on the lot sometime in the 1990s. By the mid 2000s, the Forest Service had left the buildings mostly vacant and in 2009 they gave permission to the Boise City Fire Department to use the empty structures for a training fire.

It remained vacant until 2011, when construction began on Whole Foods and Walgreens. Find more photos of the B.J.C. marching band, Harry Morrison, and the 1950s at Historic Boise State.

Jim Duran,
Special Collections

1 comment:

Mary Aagard said...

As a 4th grader we learned a bit about Morrison-Knudsen and how important it was to the state. After I married Hans I learned the his grandfather worked for M-K for a time, and his mother was born in Boise. Small world! Thanks for sharing this bit.