Magical Places in Salt Lake City
Growing up in a Salt Lake City suburb, I heard older kids speak about places in the city that kept an imaginative young girl convinced that I lived in a magical place where legends were true and remarkable things might happen. Gravity Hill, Gilgal Gardens, and “Hobbitville” were spoken about in reverent tones and with excitement about whether such places might really exist.Years later, as a college student, I was introduced to those places, each time with a group of classmates, furtively and breathlessly, using the thrill of potential discovery as an opportunity for flirtation.
Allen Park in Sugar House
I moved to Sugar House as an adult. I have a fond memory of taking a leisurely stroll through the property while on a first date with a locally famous Sugar House resident. Allen Park served as a great bonding experience for the two of us―each unabashed fans of the quirkiness of our shared neighborhood. While the potential romance with that person didn’t last, my love of Sugar House remained. And now, as an Allen Park neighbor, I find myself experiencing a mix of curiosity, worry, and nostalgia as I learn more about the future of the property and reminisce on its past.
History of Allen Park and Price Family
It is difficult to truly know the property and its history. Many people I have spoken with have experienced challenging interactions with the property owners. Amy Price and her daughter Ruth Price were the daughter and granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs. Allen, respectively.
According to former Westminster College President, Steve Morgan, his three decades at the college provided numerous opportunities to engage with the Price family. He described that each overture he made was met with a firm rejection. Lynne Olson, former Community Council member, also describes heated interactions with the family during the process of updating the Sugar House master plan.
During the past decade, I, too, had an opportunity to engage with the Price family through my work with Westminster College, and each time was admittedly difficult. I found them to be angry and mistrustful, once even asking me if I already had the ability to take the property from them. It appeared to me that their combativeness stemmed from their intense fear of losing the property.
I find it a bit tragic, actually, to know that there were opportunities over the last decade for the Price’s to ensure that their legacy would last on the property, had they engaged in some of those discussions at the time. Now that the family members have passed away, I feel my own responsibility to honor the history of the property.
This past holiday season, many Allen Park neighbors gathered for the annual neighborhood progressive dinner party, and the conversation naturally turned to the future of Allen Park. While there is a general understanding that the riparian corridor overlay may help to prevent overbuilding the property, the neighbors also expressed fear that any future development may not respect the character of the neighborhood.
According to Judi Short, Chair of the Sugar House Community Council Land Use and Zoning Committee, the developer, Ronaldo Hunt, is engaging the community in the planning process. On January 13, 2020, he held what he has indicated is only the beginning of many community feedback sessions to engage neighbors in the development process. Community members can continue to leave comments on this site.
In the meantime, I can’t help but feel a bit wistful. I love the charm that a strange, quirky place in the middle of our city provided. I love thinking that long ago a doctor with a love of birds and art created his own refuge, even making the property open to community members each week and publishing The Bird Gazette.
I love the stories that some of the structures on the property may have been given to Dr. Allen long ago by copper miners who couldn’t afford their medical care, and brought these structures as payment. I don’t even know for sure that all of these stories are true.
The imaginative girl I once was is now an adult charmed by the stories behind places like Allen Park. I am approaching this change with an open mind, but I already miss the call of the peacocks.
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