Life in 'Old Deseret' — This Is the Place Heritage Park carries on LDS pioneer traditions
The new Garden Place at Heritage Park can host conventions and meetings within its multipurpose hall, and on its outdoor lawns. The spacious facility, on the park's western fringes near buildings in the University of Utah's Research Park, was funded by private donations. It is, Harris adds, one of the recent projects of Utah developer Ellis Ivory, now the park's executive director, as well as chairman of its board of trustees.
Ivory is not living in the past, in this haven of another time. "He's bringing the past into the future," Harris says.
On the wood and timber hall's south side is another new addition, the Walk of Pioneer Faiths. Here 10 large stone markers remember the legacies of various pioneer religious groups, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant.
And every day seems to bring a wedding to the village. Preparations are under way at the New England-white replica of the Pine Valley Chapel. But, Harris says, other settings are equally popular, from the porch-lined Kimball Home on First North to the 1862 stuccoed Brigham Young Forest Farmhouse on the far west side. Garden Place will be another ideal venue for such gatherings, Harris says.
Sounds and symbols
History rings throughout This Is the Place. The clang of hammer upon metal resounds from the blacksmith's shop. Children in pioneer dress chatter and stroll along the walkways. Other children, in modern togs and identical T-shirts, do, too, in little tour groups. Some thrill to rides on real ponies, not a make-believe carousel, under a gazebo at the Savage Livery Stable.
On Main Street, Robin Bromley is twirling thick yarn thread on the porch of the Jewkes home, her pumping foot making a spinning wheel spin. She manipulates clean wool (from Lottie, the sheep out back), using a "lazy kate" to wind new thread onto a spool. Inside, she has been at work creating red-and-white dish towel cloth on an 1885 loom.
Yes, she is a "spinster," Bromley says, "although I am married and have two children — and am on grandbaby alert right now!"
Meanwhile, Sarah Durtschi is alone in the replicated sandstone Heber East Ward Schoolhouse, though she's expecting students to arrive shortly.
Slate boards and chalk repose upon the desks. On the walls hang portraits of famous men, such as Brigham Young. A large chart presents squiggly letters of the Mormon pioneers' Deseret alphabet, some characters of which are also on the teacher's blackboard at the head of the schoolroom.
On the north wall is an 1865 map of the United States and the nation's territories. A rose-tinted section much larger than the then-square-ish territory of Utah, demarcates the expansive hopes of the would-be State of Deseret.
"People are interested in it," the teacher says. After all, the proposed Deseret "was bigger than Texas," the big state (and former nation) outlined a little farther to the southeast on the map.
The map's Deseret covers much of the West, from what is today Colorado, down into New Mexico and Arizona, and stretching into southern California. It would have included ports like Los Angeles and San Diego. But San Francisco and Sacramento, to the north, where the Gold Rush of '49 stirred things up, are not within Deseret's suggested boundaries.
However, Harris and Durtschi, a California native, agree that Deseret would have included a happy modern-day southern California attraction:
This Is the Place Heritage Park
Where: This Is the Place Heritage Park, 2601 E. Sunnyside Ave.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $10 adults; $7 seniors (55 and over); $7 children (12 and under); children 2 and under enter for free. On Sunday, fees are $5 for adults; $3 for seniors; $3 for children.
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