The 20-acre expanse of open space and shade trees off North Cole Road is iconic for a few reasons.
The Spaulding Ranch, uninhabited for many years, is the last remaining open farmland within Boise city limits.
Around the turn of the 20th century, farms like Spaulding were common. Today, this site is the exception. It became one of the city's nine historic preservation districts in 1996 - the only district with a single property and the only district with an agricultural character.
Almon and Mary Spaulding homesteaded the farm in 1896. At that time, the farm covered 100 acres, about five times its current size. Farm owners have sold acreage through the years, including land that became the Capital High ballfield.
The Spaulding Ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its application for the designation noted the farm's outbuildings. They include a classic red barn with double-pitched roof that dates to 1910. Other historic structures include a farmhouse, a wooden silo and a New Deal-era outdoor toilet built in the spirit of sanitizing rural America.
The Spauldings sold their farm to Harvey and Katherine Caron in the 1940s. The Idaho Statesman featured the Carons in a 1954 society page feature titled, "Life in the country includes irrigatin' for these once-city dwellers." Katherine Caron spent many years as a fashion buyer for the C.C. Anderson department store chain.
It was a working farm until the mid-1990s. A renter kept 20 head of Holstein and grew hay there.
Katherine Caron campaigned to get the ranch listed on the National Register. She died in 2012 at the age of 100.
An Idaho investment firm now owns the property. To build at Spaulding Ranch, a developer would have to convince the Historic Preservation Commission to remove the historic designation from the site, or part of the site.
The idea that this could happen one day inspired the Boise Architecture Project to list the Spaulding Ranch in 2010 as one of the most endangered historic sites in the city.
3805 N. Cole Road
Anna Webb: 377-6431