As the sun rises, its glow begins to fill the sky and bathe the historic homes in morning light. But the sun is not the first to rise in the town on this particular Saturday. May 26, 2012 was Spring City’s annual Heritage Day celebration and inside those homes many townspeople have already been awake for hours preparing.
One of the unexpected highlights of visiting this town was that the streets were practically paved with antique cars of a variety of vintages. Though the town was around before the car was, having such vivid relics of another time made the nostalgic transformation complete.
This LDS chapel, which was built between 1902 and 1911, with local oolitic limestone, is the first LDS chapel to ever have been restored and added onto rather than torn down and replaced. It is currently listed among the Church’s top 15 historic buildings, but more importantly stands with Spring City’s Old Public School as central to the city’s heritage in the hearts of the people.
Early morning view of the Redick Allred house built in the mid 1870s. The stone mason on this house was named Jens “Rock” Sorensen, a Dane. This area saw an influx of Scandinavian settlement in the 19th century and neighboring Ephraim, UT had a Scandinavian festival the same weekend as Spring City’s heritage celebration. I am here to declare that it was worth the drive to Ephraim to sample some of those oh-so-Swedish meatballs.
There is a particular crispness and beauty to the combinations of color that have been chosen for these restored homes, particularly against the rich texture of limestone. In preserving the aesthetic details of their homes, Spring City hopes to also preserve the details of the pioneers’ lives.
In the 19th century, the road that is now U.S. Route 89 was moved to bypass Spring City a mile west of the town. At first glance, that would appear to be an economic disadvantage, but it is largely because of this that the old buildings in the town weren’t torn down for newer structures to take their places. Buildings weren’t the only things left to dot this landscape.
Though we are squarely experiencing 2012 and these buildings are but remnants of a time long past, there is something about the softness of early light that is timeless.
The pioneers must of gloried in spring mornings like this one. Oh, to enjoy the cool, freshness of morning as they ventured out of town to their farms to work through the heat of the day.
This expanse, dappled with the sage whose scent lies sweet and thick in the air, is the land from which this city sprung and the land on which its people depended.
It is tempting to believe amidst shade trees and a white, picket fence that the time captured by this town was a simpler one, but every time has had its difficulties and sorrows, just as it has its joys.
Sanpete County is notable in Utah as being primarily agricultural (and now historical) in focus. Among the funniest looking residents of the area are the tenants of large, nearby turkey farms and this guy.
Spring City has begun to develop a reputation as an artists’ community with galleries in various mediums of art become a prominent part of the townscape. The attempt to capture the land as it is as well as life here as it could be.
Though these school bells haven’t beckoned reluctant boys and girls to their studies since 1957, the old public school has been a center of community restoration efforts for 30 years.
Money is fundraised through events like the Heritage Day celebration in order to renovate the school for community use. You can find information on the project at www.historicspringcity.org
The bricks are primarily locally fired bricks and the building, which has a eclectic Victorian beauty about it, has been in and out of use as a glorified storage unit since the 50s. Hope remains that it can become more than that and it is considered integral to the town’s identity.
The public school was the central location for Heritage Day celebrations. Among other things, it housed an art auction, which featured some beautiful pieces; providing valuable exposure for local artists while raising money for this ongoing restoration and renovation project.
This project has brought LDS and non-LDS members of the community together as they try to save what is theirs. In addition to art, there were antiques and collectibles donated by members of the community that were beautiful and mysterious and reminded me of not only the origins of the town, but the history bridges the gap between that pioneer beginning and the present.
The eyes of young and old alike, shined with the wonder of so many items from so many different time periods. There were feathered hats and brooches and maps and old board games and items I would have never even thought to ask after. Though the pieces were anachronistic from one another, to enter these adorned schoolrooms was to be transported.
The cheerful green of this home reminds me of my Mother, she loves green things. It seems so reminiscent of life and would perhaps remind them that a green spring would follow what would often have been cold and difficult winters here.
This town is still living and breathing. With muddy shoes by the door or a horse being tended to out back, it is delightfully clear that many of these pioneer homes have current residents.
The population of the town seemed to triple in size with this Memorial Day weekend event. Natives and Visitors alike were able to drink in the floral indicators of a blossoming springtime.
It was an extremely windy weekend and most people had to give up on presentable hairstyles altogether, but this photograph seems to capture a rare moment of stillness.
Either a job yet to be finished or a job well done; old-time implements are often embraced and integrated into the feeling of the place rather than removed.
Were I a mule, I would be enticed by the exclusive parking privileges, but probably scared off by all of those chains.
This historic barn played host to a wedding reception just hours before our arrival to Spring City. The rustically run-down feeling of it does create an air of unmistakable romance.
Alison Anderson and her husband Chris run a Bed & Breakfast in Spring City and acted as the charming hosts of our stay in town. In addition to seeing to our every need over the weekend, she was also busy baking hundreds of cinnamon rolls for the town to sell at the schoolhouse.
She showed us around the rich woodwork and distinctive layout of the main house, which once belonged to the territorial judge, Jacob Johnson.
Though I felt this way about many of the homes, her house in particular seemed to be alive with the memories of who had once walked these halls. The wood seemed to be teeming with stories to tell.
It is said that Butch Cassidy and his gang once visited this judge while he was living here and drunkenly threatened to kill him. The judge came out on the balcony and sensibly noted that should they decide to shoot him, the government would merely appoint a replacement. Instead of losing his life to Butch Cassidy, he ended up having him inside for a drink.
Artisans from all over Utah braved the dust devils that the wind kicked up to showcase their wares and their craft for attendees of Heritage Day. This woman just decided she’d like to learn to weave, purchased a loom, and has since weaved yards and yards of beautiful material.
That rock seems to add decorative, eclectic texture, but also functions to keep the cloth fixed in place as the wind continued to blow.
One of the artists that actually lives and works in Spring City is the potter at Horseshoe Mountain Pottery. When we first drove past the sign for this shop/studio I thought that it was listing what it had: horseshoes, mountains, and pottery.
The members of this community truly support one another and I noticed these beautiful wood-fired pots featured inside and on the porches of many of the pioneer homes that we walked through all over the town.
The potter, Joe Bennion, keeps his business alive and continues to make handcrafted pottery in a world of industrialization and mass production. His wife, Lee is a painter and both are a central part of what is a growing artistic community in central Utah.
Much of the pottery communicates a message, whether it is as subtle as an Anasazi swirl or sacred phrase “holiness to the Lord.”
Just as this wagon is a reminder of how the pioneers got here, this entire town is a reminder of how today’s Latter-Day Saints got to where they are.
This owners and restorers of these homes take pride in showing visitors what was left behind of these structures and what they’ve been able to do with them. Though this is now a nationally designated historic area, it is still the individuals that keep it alive and make it what it is.
The walls of this particular pioneer home are two feet thick. It makes would appear to be a decent-sized home, fairly small on the inside. Many of the people that live in these restored homes have to adjust to pioneer living dimensions to retain the original integrity of the structures.
Many of the houses in this town were home to polygamous families. When polygamy was outlawed in the United States, some of the Spring City men had to deal with the consequences. Pictured here is Niels Borresen who was imprisoned twice in the Territorial Prison in Sugarhouse for having had three wives.
I couldn’t get over how satisfying and exquisite the texture of the few stone homes in the town was. We were shown an old fire marshal’s map and the few stone structures in the town stood out as singular and rare.
We were not the only ones excitedly taking pictures of these amazing automobiles from the way-back-when.
This was the official residence of Orson Hyde and his wife Mary Ann Price Hyde. He was called to be an apostle in 1835 and was assigned to oversee colonization of the Sanpete Valley, moving to Spring City in 1860.
Bonnie and her husband Bruce acquired the property in 2004 and have been about the business of restoring it ever since.
We were asked to remove our shoes in many of the historic homes. It created an implicit familiarity with otherwise strangers to be standing around in our bare feet together.
The Orson Hyde house had several original Mormon pieces of furniture including this desk (which I wished I could take home and write at), which was once inside the Manti Temple just down the road from here.
Though the associated tripping hazard would take some getting used to, were one to live here, the ridges in these stairs are the original wear and tear from its apostolic residents. It was one of many reminders that these buildings are not merely models or museum pieces, but homes.
This is one of two original limestone outbuildings that remain on the Orson Hyde property.
Once a granary, this building has now been turned into a cozy guesthouse. It has much of the original wood inside and you’d never known amidst the mountain-cabin, luxury feel of it, that it was original meant from inanimate occupancy.
This caution sign is no joke; there are chickens in this town.
The town’s pioneer museum fills in some of details of what might have been inside and on the shelves and in the closets of the pioneer homes that visitors to the town have the opportunity to explore.
Kaye Watson plays an integral role in preserving and publicizing Historic Spring City and it is thanks to her that Meridian made the trek and joined the celebration.
Preserving our past is not just about intellectualizing what happened before you were born, but being able to add texture to your understanding and import to your legacy.
On our way out of town, we stopped at the cemetery where, among many others, Orson Hyde is buried.
In recognition of Memorial Day, the dedicated ground was lined with American flags. It seemed appropriate to remember this town and its role in church history as part of a weekend that is set apart for remembering.
You can remember what you don’t even know yet by learning about your own history and know when you’re on that quest that Spring City will leave the door open for you.