Arthur Porter, for whom Porter Park is named, was born in Auckland, New Zealand, April 20, 1876. He came to the United States with his parents at the age of nine. He died December 30, 1967, in Rexburg, Idaho. Porter was an educator, publisher, merchant, mayor, legislator and religious leader. He was a "community builder" his entire life. He arrived in Rexburg in 1902 to teach at Ricks Academy (BYU-Idaho). He later established the Rexburg Journal newspaper and Porter's Book Store (Porter's). He served for mamy years in the presidency of the Rexburg LDS Stake and at one time was Superintendent of Schools for Madison County.
In 1929, in the beginning of his first term as mayor, Arthur Porter received several complaints about the disgusting conditions of the local City Park. The park was surrounded by poplar trees which covered the ground with cotton in the summer. Irrigation was unsatisfactory, the grass was dried up, dust blew throughout the park, and the place was filthy. Mayor Porter decided to do something about these problems.
This was the beginning of the Great Depression and the city had limited funds for improving the park. The work would begin by removing the trees and leveling the east half of the park. The city contracted with a local farmer to remove the trees for $250. Most of the leveling was done by men working
on a government program (WPA) for unemployed men. Work was also donated by civic clubs. The sprinkling system was installed by a local plumber at little charge.
Many of the new shade trees were received from the state nursery at no charge. Porter wrote to several nurseries offering to trade advertising in his newspaper as well as job printing in exchange for trees. The offer was accepted by more than one nursery. Porter then donated the trees to the park and supervised the planting.
At the end of Mayor Porter's third term, tennis courts, a wading pool, and rest rooms had been built, all at little cost to the city. In 1952, in recognition of his planning, promoting, and developing of the beautiful park, the city council change the name from City Park to Porter Park.