Change is afoot at Ann Morrison Park as her family seeks new life for a historic landmark

An iconic piece of Boise history may soon get a second life.

The Ann Morrison Clock, standing solitary in the middle of two soccer fields, has been a long-time fixture of Ann Morrison Park. If you’ve ever wandered through, you may have caught a glimpse of its spindly blueish-green legs stretching upwards, rust peeking through paint chips.

It has been broken for 25 years, the digital clock face stuck forever in its rectangular box.

Mark Daly — the grandson of Don Daly and great nephew of Ann Daly Morrison, for whom the 153-acre park is named — is leading a push to restore the clock to its former mid-century style and to move it to a more prominent location.

“It’s more than a timepiece,” Daly said by phone. “It provides an identity to the park and to the neighborhood.”

“We think it’s important to maintain its historical significance and appearance … to remind people when the park was founded, and the memory of Ann Daly Morrison,” Mark Daly said.
“We think it’s important to maintain its historical significance and appearance … to remind people when the park was founded, and the memory of Ann Daly Morrison,” Mark Daly said.

The project would restore “the tower to its mid-century greatness,” said Katherine Kirk, executive director of the Idaho Heritage Trust.

Don Daly, Ann’s nephew, donated the 43-foot-tall clock with its original cube-like analog face around 1960, and it began having mechanical problems by 1961, according to Daly and the Idaho Heritage Trust. The city of Boise removed the analog clock and exchanged with with more of a scoreboard-looking digital clock in 1999.

The digital clock also broke. And the tower has aged considerably since. The clock is in the middle of the soccer fields, surrounded by sprinklers blasting water at its legs and cracked base, and without enough power to keep it functioning.

The Ann Morrison Park clock tower is located amid soccer fields nearer the east side of the park. A plan is in the works to restore the mid-century clock with an analog time face (removing the digital clock) and to relocate it.
The Ann Morrison Park clock tower is located amid soccer fields nearer the east side of the park. A plan is in the works to restore the mid-century clock with an analog time face (removing the digital clock) and to relocate it.

Even though everyone has clocks on their phones these days, Daly said the analog face could take people back to a foregone era.

“It means something to the community — maybe as an iconic feature of the park, a meeting place,” Daly said.

Plans for the clock include taking it down, painting it and returning it to as close to the original retro analog design as possible, Daly said

“It’ll look very similar to the old clock,” Daly said. “(But) we’ll have a fully functional, modern movement that’s got all the modern electronics in it.”

Don Daly donated the Ann Morrison Park clock tower in the 1960s with its original analog clock face. The city of Boise renovated the clock in the 1990s and put in a digital face.
Don Daly donated the Ann Morrison Park clock tower in the 1960s with its original analog clock face. The city of Boise renovated the clock in the 1990s and put in a digital face.

Plans also call for moving the clock less than a quarter mile from its place near the tennis courts to the center of a circular area southeast of the Ann Morrison Fountain. It would line up with the entrance to the park from Americana Boulevard, through the promenade, donor portal and fountain.

Daly and the Harry W. Morrison Foundation started working on the project a few years ago and, with the help of Together Treasure Valley, the Idaho Heritage Trust and NK Foundation, are hoping to finish by the end of this fall.

The original cost of the project was around $250,000, but Daly said he’s hoping the total cost will come in well below that. The project is not using any city of public funds, he said.

“It’s a family project to recognize (Don Daly’s) contribution,” Daly said. “We’re trying to continue that family legacy.”

The new traditional, analog-style clock will have a few modern updates to keep it accurate..
The new traditional, analog-style clock will have a few modern updates to keep it accurate..

Other projects headed for Ann Morrison Park

The clock is one of five or six projects the Harry Morrison Foundation planned for the park, including the completed Together Treasure Valley Dog Island dog park, a nearly $2 million interactive fountain that opened May 31, and the proposed Peasley Stairs that would connect Ann Morrison Park to Peasley Street.

The park sits below Crescent Rim Drive and the Boise Bench with no access to the park for pedestrians or bikers unless they travel down commuter-heavy Americana or Capitol boulevards. The main entrance off Capitol Boulevard is across from Boise State University and the busy intersection with University Drive.

The staircase would improve access for over 1,774 households, according to the city of Boise. The Boise City Council approved $850,000 for the staircase in February 2023.

Debbie Lombard-Bloom, a volunteer for the Harry Morrison Foundation, previously told the Idaho Statesman that connecting Bench residents to Ann Morrison had been a community priority for years and that the project aligned well with the city’s goals of putting each resident within a 10-minute walk of a park.

The staircase is under construction with the goal to finish in 2025, according to the Ann Morrison Park website.

This planned stairwell would connect Crescent Rim Drive to Ann Morrison Park for pedestrians and cyclists.
This planned stairwell would connect Crescent Rim Drive to Ann Morrison Park for pedestrians and cyclists.

Daly also said it’s possible the foundation could someday look into improvements for the Boise River takeout on the eastern side of the park, but that implementing them could be challenging and expensive.

“These are kind of conceptual ideas,” Daly said. “(But) we’d sure like to make that river access more user friendly.”

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