Summarized by Kent Larsen
Fate of Joseph Smith Sphinx still in doubt
Deseret News 5Jan00 A4
By Alan Edwards: Deseret News staff writer
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Gilgal Garden, a quirky Salt Lake sculpture
garden filled with folk art created for and by LDS bishop and mason
Thomas Child, may have been saved, but a nonprofit group that has been
trying to get Salt Lake City to accept ownership may end up with it.
The group, known as the Friends of Gilgal Garden, has raised $600,000 of
the $780,000 needed to purchase the garden, under an option that expires
next week. It had planned to then donate the garden to the city, which
would have to spend about $8,000 a year to maintain it as part of the
city park system. But on Tuesday the City Council had other ideas. While
it agreed to accept the garden, it decided to take ownership only
temporarily, giving the garden back to the Friends of Gilgal Garden after
"I'm disappointed," said Julia Robertson, a member of the group. "It's
not enough." The group fears that enthusiasm for the garden will wane in
the future, and the garden will be neglected, as it is now.
The garden is in the center of a block in downtown Salt Lake City. It
was constructed by Child between 1945 and 1963 and includes sculptures
that are unlike those anywhere else. Among the more notable are a sphinx
with the face of Joseph Smith and paving stones engraved with obscure
LDS scriptures. "This is not a typical Mormon guy. He was a real free
thinker," says artist David Sucec of Child.
The City Council feared that the cost of maintaining the garden would be
too high. Councilman Keith Christensen said that the Council didn't want
another donation like the City's Tracy Aviary. "(The aviary) has been a
great thing, but to us it's been a black hole financially . . . " he
said. "If there's a way to do this without this becoming a city park, I
would prefer that."
The Friends plan to raise a total of $800,000 to $1 million for the
purchase as well as future programming and maintenance. $400,000 of that
has been pledged by Salt Lake County, on the condition that the City
take ownership. Other donors, including the LDS Church and area
charitable foundations, have also made this a requirement.
Unfortunately, the City's plan to hold the garden for six months may not
satisfy their conditions, and kill the sale.
Still, the city may be persuaded to reconsider. At least newly-elected
mayor Rocky Anderson is behind the City's ownership, "I think the city
ought to embrace this opportunity to own, in perpetuity, this tremendous
property," he told the Deseret News.
Can Gilgal Be Saved?
Salt Lake City Weekly 25Nov99 A4
By Christy Karras
Time may be running out to preserve one of Utah's weirdest wonders.