The Tina Touch: Longtime Parkite honored with Spirit of Hospitality Award
Tina Lewis moved to Park City in 1973 and has been instrumental in revitalizing the community
A group of hot-shot skiers who frequented Alta Ski Area decided to pile into a car and drive up the little, winding road up Parleys Canyons, through the farms and barns, to check out Park City. It was December 1963, and the town’s first ski resort had just opened.
Among the passengers was 17-year-old Tina Lewis, who had read about the once-booming town in a guidebook about ghost towns of the West a few years earlier. After a day on the mountain, the young’uns went over to Main Street. Lewis saw a street in desperate need of some tender loving care. She instantly fell in love.
“The mountains that surrounded this tiny little isolated town were like a big hug both physically and psychologically,” she said.
Lewis moved to town in 1973 when an influx of kindred spirits with artistic, academic and athletic backgrounds shared a vision for what the revitalization movement could be. She quickly got to work, leaving her signature “Tina touch,” which can still be felt throughout Park City.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau at its annual meeting Thursday honored Lewis for her role in helping turn the former mining town into a bustling tourist destination, awarding her with the Myles Rademan Spirit of Hospitality Award. It was her 77th birthday. The yearly recognition is given to a community member who embodies the vision of Park City and aspires to make the community a better, more inclusive place.
Rademan, a planning director for Park City in the late 1980s and the head of City Hall’s leadership program, said Lewis has been a visionary force in the rebirth of Park City.
Deb Archer, a former executive director of the Chamber/Bureau, credited Lewis for helping bring notable events such as the Sundance Film Festival and the 2002 Winter Olympics to Park City. Archer characterized Lewis as the “soul of the community.”
Lewis was the first full-time director of the Park City Arts Festival. The event was one of the earliest to benefit from the “Tina touch” and it is now known as the Kimball Arts Festival.
The Parkite, who lives in Silver Meadows, continued her public service when she was elected to the Park City Council in 1979. There were tremendous building and development pressures at the time, Archersaid, but Lewis balanced the opportunities with the foresight to be thoughtful and smart about growth.
Next, Lewis turned her sights to preservation. She supported the relocation of Miners Hospital from its location near Glenwood Cemetery to its current location, and then she realized there was a need for a library. Lewis led an effort to transform the historic building into the new Park City Library in 1980. Around $800,000 was raised through a bond and private donations, and community volunteers completed much of the work themselves.
Lewis also organized a book brigade of more than 750 people in 1982 to help move roughly 5,000 volumes nearly a mile from Main Street to Miners Hospital in City Park. She joked only one book was lost — or perhaps stolen — during the feat. The title was “The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking” by Alex Comfort.
The old jail on Main Street was another project strongly influenced by Lewis. It was transformed into the Park City Historical Society in 1981 and housed the Park City Museum as well as the first offices for the Chamber/Bureau.
Lewis went on to form a historic district commission, helping to write the guidelines as well as the city’s sign ordinance. She was instrumental in replacing old freeway-style street lights on Main Street with more aesthetic versions. Lewis and others located several of the original lamps stacked like cordwood behind the fire station. All but four could be refurbished, which is why the lights at the top of Main Street are different.
Lewis coordinated the creation of Park City’s logo and designed the fencing around the Park City Cemetery. She also planned the centennial celebration in 1984. She started the Taste of Park City, which became Savor the Summit, the original Autumn Aloft and Miners Day, too. Archer said the Parkite created places for the community to explore while promoting a welcoming environment that invited visitors in.
Lewis was praised as a connection-maker who understood what the city needed. Her fresh-baked pastries were known to help give her an advantage as she worked on her goals. She’s also a talented seamstress.
“She’s the woman who drove a Jaguar everyone was jealous of. Brad Olch considers her the reason he became mayor because she ran his campaign. And she is so deserving of this award,” Archer said.
The Wasatch County Council is considering an ordinance that would update how a private individual can obtain a permit to plow seasonal county roads.
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