Park City Museum honors historic buildings
Ryan Summerlin May 20, 2014
History is the business of the Park City Historical Society and Museum and May is busy because it’s Historic Preservation Month.
To commemorate, the Park City Museum places ribbons on each of the 430 historic buildings in the area, said Sandra Morrison, executive director of the Park City Museum.
A little more than 20 years ago, the historical society and museum’s board of trustees decided they would like to honor Historic Preservation Month, Morrison said.
"They came up with the idea of honoring all the historic buildings in Park City by putting ribbons on them," Morrison said during an interview with The Park Record.
It’s a huge undertaking.
"Most of them go on the historic homes in Old Town, but we also like to put them on other structures such as the McPolin barn and the farm’s outbuildings on S.R. 224," Morrison said.
In addition, volunteers seek out buildings at the Silver Star project by the Park City Golf Course.
"There are a number of mining structures up there that have been beautifully restored by the owners," Morrison said. "We also go hiking into the mountains and put these ribbons on other old mining structures. There are water tanks, ore bins and some large mills and head-framed buildings."
Morrison likes doing that because hikers and bikers can see these ribbons.
"They will come across the structures and realize these are significant and historic sites in Park City’s history," she said.
It doesn’t matter if these buildings are homes, businesses or apparent ruins. They all get ribbons.
"We do this because we appreciate all the historic buildings, whether or not they have undergone multi-million dollar restoration or an annual maintenance or upkeep," Morrison explained. "Regardless of what type of building it is, it takes dedication to maintain a historic building."
This year, the Historical Society and Museum are adding a new program with gold ribbons.
"We are going to put 10 of these on buildings that we have think the owners have done an exceptional job at restoration," Morrison said.
There are guidelines as to what a historic building is, she said.
"In Park City, we say a building has to be at least 50 years old to be called historic," Morrison explained. "Park City Municipal has a list of the historic buildings when they adopted a historic-sites inventory in 2009."
At that time, it hired a preservation consultant who did a survey on the entire town and researched all the structures to determine their significance in Park City’s mining history.
"However, as we’re coming into the area’s skiing history, with Park City Mountain Resort opening 50 years ago, there are a number of A Frames that were part of the Ski Chalet that was popular in the 1960s that were built because of the ski resort," Morrison said. "We will put ribbons on all those buildings as well and there is some discussion about whether or not we want to expand our historical inventory from just mining-era structures into the skiing-era structures. Both eras are important to the town’s history."
Some of Morrison’s favorites historic sites are the small garages found on Sandridge Avenue.
"They’ve all been renovated so they are structurally sound, but they look like they are half falling over and have been built out of recycled materials back in the 1920s," she said. "There are a series of these unique and attractive structures in a row."
She also likes two water tanks up on the Silver Queen ski run at Park City Mountain Resort.
"We spent some time last fall doing some maintenance on these tanks," Morrison said. "They were build in the 1890s as part of the Silver King Mining and in the 1990s, the Historical Society hired Lance Kinkaid, a contractor, to do some works on there tanks to keep them standing for another 100 years."
Hope Melville, a Park City Historical Society volunteer and historic home owner, helps place the ribbons on these historic buildings.
She said the ribbons help people recognize these unique and significant structures.
"We get to visit different areas and get a close-up view of buildings that we maybe don’t notice from the street," Melville said. "There is a lovely home and garage at the top of Daly Avenue that is so fun to see. It’s a ruin, but fun to look at."
She also likes some of the buildings located between Marsac and Ontario that are accessible by walkway.
"There are some on Sandridge that are fun, as well," she said. "A lot of them have great yards."
Melville especially likes when visitors see the ribbons and begin asking questions.
"As locals, we get used to the old buildings and don’t notice them, but the visitors do and that’s what makes the town memorable to them," she said. "These ribbons reinforce the fact that these historic buildings are authentic.
"The historic district is a huge community asset and economic driver for Park City," Melville said. "Because a historic building is old, it takes a lot of extra work and material to maintain it, and the ribbon is a small recognition and sign of appreciation for those efforts."
The Park City Historical Society and Museum believes that protecting the town’s history helps bridge cultural differences in the area.
"Back 100 years ago, people who lived in town were from all over the country and all over the world and they were here creating community," Morrison said. "It honors our forebearers and nurtures and improves our town’s economic vitality. It also nurtures that shared sense of belonging to this historical town, which creates community today."
For more information about the Park City Historical Society and Museum, visit www.parkcityhistory.org.