BOUNTIFUL The Legislature gave Bountiful City Councilman Tom Tolman's quest to build a 10,000-square-foot history museum a huge "shot in the arm" with a $145,000 contribution.
The City Council had pledged half of the $1.5 million needed if the Bountiful Historical Preservation Foundation could raise the other half. The state's contribution means the foundation only has about $500,000 to go, and the more money pledged, the easier it is to get more, Tolman said.
Erecting a facility worthy of the state's second-oldest community has been a mission of Tolman's for his past six years on the council.
"I have a super desire because of my ancestry. I feel it from them. I have a passion that's hard to explain," he said.
Tolman, like many other members of the foundation, grew up in Bountiful around the legacy left by his forefathers. He and his son both live in houses that have been occupied by his family for 140 years. Now the 65-year-old retired graphic artist is worried that if his generation doesn't tell the stories of their ancestors, the stories will be lost.
"We talk to kids and show them pictures to teach them how hard children had to work," said Sandy Inman, education coordinator for the Bountiful Historical Commission. "It makes them appreciate what they have and how hard their ancestors had to work to give them what they have today."
The Davis School District now requires third-graders to learn their community's history and without the commission, Inman said, there'd be no place for teachers to go for material. Additionally, Boy Scouts, families holding reunions and members of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers make appointments to see what they have.
This need prompted the creation of a temporary museum three years ago in a small office at 845 S. Main. The new facility will have an archive to store the five file drawers full of personal, family, school and business histories donated to the commission, as well as room for others to keep their documents safe. It will have an auditorium to welcome students and other visitors and hold meetings of the DUP and others, said Joyce Benard, member of the board.
Most important, Tolman emphasizes, is that it will be a real museum with revolving exhibits and interactive displays. It won't just be about pioneers, either. The stories of 20th century residents, especially during the two world wars and the Cold War conflicts in Asia, are equally important, he said.
Tolman's career was making displays. With a background in photography and graphic art, he ran a company that made exhibits for trade shows, zoos, the Army Corps of Engineers and of course, museums, all across the country.
Besides making a new visual documentary about the community and enlarging old photographs, the commission plans on having an orchard and garden outside the museum where schoolchildren can weed and hoe and learn where their great-grandfathers' meals came from. The basement will also have hands-on activities like making an American Indian wickiup, climbing in a pioneer dugout and loading a handcart. They hope to show people how bricks were made, since Bountiful was famous in the early days for its brickyards.
"There were so many wonderful people who helped establish Bountiful, and we want them to be remembered for what they did," Inman said.The foundation is still seeking donations from private individuals as well as the governments of West Bountiful, Woods Cross and North Salt Lake, which will all be included in the histories. The boost from the Legislature pushed by Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, and Sen. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful might allow for a groundbreaking as early as autumn, Tolman said. Once the goal is met, the foundation will also seek between $500,000 and $1 million for ongoing costs.