In the years I’ve lived in Utah, I spent hours scouring the internet for interesting activities and Utah secret spots. Needless to say, I get really excited when I find something brand new. Here’s a spot I’ve never heard of before: The Gilgal Sculpture Garden. Located in downtown Salt Lake City (749 East 500 south) this secret garden is now a public park.
The concept itself is really neat: A local Utah businessman, Thomas Battersby Child, Jr., spent almost twenty years of his life building his own special place where he could retreat from the world.
Can I create a sanctuary or atmosphere in my yard
that will shut out fear and keep one’s mind young and
alert to the last, no matter how perilous the times?
-Thomas Battersby Child, Jr.
Luckily Child was a masonry contractor so he created his retreat with stone sculptures in a small garden. As a place of reflection, each statue mirrors some of his religious ideals with some stones acting as a direct translation for scriptures, others record texts, poems and script. The work is unique, and for many would probably be categorized as weird, but it all captures a fascinating perspective.
After Child’s death in 1963, a neighbor purchased the area. Over the years the neighbor struggled to know what to do with the area. As a private park in downtown there was no funding for upkeep nor to prevent the night-time vandals. After various options were discussed, including razing the park to build condominiums, the Friends of Gilgal Garden coordinated the 2000 purchase of the area, officially making the it a public park. Since then, the work to restore the statues has been slowly moving forward as the group struggles to find funding.
What are your thoughts on the area? Do you think saving the park was worth it?