This Is the Place State Park in its refurbished and enlarged condition is a cooperative venture between the Utah Statehood Centennial Commission and the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation.
The park, with the monument and "living-history" village, was selected three years ago by the centennial commission as the state's "Living Legacy Project." Each of the 29 counties in Utah also has a Living Legacy Project.Old Deseret Village is an ongoing project largely funded by donations from businesses and individuals, according to Stephen M. Studdert, Utah Statehood Centennial Commission chairman.
Docents and artisans in period costume - some making wares for sale - add flavor to the visitor's experience in the village.
Here are brief summaries of some of the attractions in This Is the Place State Park, based on information published by the centennial commission. (New additions are printed in boldface and years when the original buildings were constructed are in parentheses.)
Visitor Center/Old Sugarhouse Sugar Factory (1853). This is based on the sugar factory designed by Truman O. Angell, architect of the Salt Lake Temple. The factory, built in Sugar House in southeast Salt Lake City, was probably the largest adobe structure in Utah during the territory's first two decades. The visitor center now houses a gift shop, rotating historical exhibits, a village map and theater. On the lower floor is a vivid mural painted in 1959 by Lynn Fausett to depict the 1846-47 trek.
Bowery (c. 1847). This is a replica of the Saints' first structure in the Salt Lake Valley, an open air shelter with thatched roof made of brush and willow boughs. It accommodated worship services until more permanent structures could be erected.
Deseret News Building (1848-49). The Deseret News, begun in 1850, has always been owned by the Church. The parent publication of the Church News, it is Utah's oldest continuous business enterprise. The building, which is replicated at Old Deseret, housed the newspaper for a year and also the Salt Lake City mint, where Utah's first gold coins were produced. It features a working hand press.
Huntsman Hotel (1872). This is a scaled-down version of the original hotel built in Fillmore, Utah, by Gabriel and Eunice Huntsman, and once considered the finest in southern Utah. The reconstructed version features a dining room with pioneer-style food and an adjoining ice cream and sarsaparilla parlor.
Heber East Ward School (c. 1865). The original was used for school classes on week days and for worship services on Sundays. At the village, brief lessons (about 10 minutes) are taught to visitors who assume the role of pupils.
Pine Valley Chapel (1868). The original building in southern Utah was conceived and designed by Australian shipbuilder Ebenezer Bryce using traditional ship-framing techniques. The replica at Old Deseret was still under construction during the dedication.
Hooper, Eldredge & Company Bank (1868). First Security Bank, the oldest bank in Utah, grew out of this early enterprise on Main and 100 South streets in Salt Lake City. In the replica at Old Deseret, visitors can see examples of currency used in pioneer Utah.
Brigham Young's Forest Farmhouse (1863). Although President Young never lived in this gingerbread-style frame and stucco house, he maintained the home and its surrounding acreage as a show place for visiting dignitaries. Like some of the other Old Deseret buildings, this is an original structure, not a replica. It is filled with artifacts from the pioneer era.
Social Hall (1853). This is a reconstruction of the original that was on Social Hall Avenue in downtown Salt Lake City. It contained a dance floor, kitchen and theater. Mark Twain was among entertainers who appeared there. Remnants of the original foundation can be seen on the spot where it stood in Salt Lake City.
Milo and Lucy Loomis Andrus House and Traveler's Inn (1858). On its original spot in Crescent, Utah, in south Salt Lake County, this was known as a halfway house because of its location between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah. It provided lodging for weary travelers as well as the Andrus' large family.
Mary Fielding Smith Home (1850). Sister Smith was the widow of Hyrum Smith, brother of the prophet. In Old Deseret, this original structure has been placed on the far hills to symbolize its isolated location near Millcreek Canyon southeast of the valley. She maintained a successful farm and her independence in this home until she fell seriously ill four years later. She died at the home of Heber C. Kimball in 1854.