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Gilgal Gardens

Gilgal Gardens

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This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Gilgal Garden Tour is June 5, 2004. Tickets available at many local nurseries in advance.

Fifty-nine years ago, a Latter-day Saint stonemason and his sculptor friend began carving on many giant boulders that they placed on a wooded half-acre in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah The garden is a unique example of Utah Folk Art and a tribute to their faith and culture.

Gilgal Garden was the creation of Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. and sculptor Maurice Brooks and expresses religious and philosophical beliefs. They called it Gilgal Garden, after the place just outside of Jericho where ancient Israelites crossed the Middle East's Jordan River and camped

Mr. Child began the garden in 1945 and continued working on and creating new sculptures for it until 1963. Recently, Two years ago--instead of being wiped out for a condominium project--the tiny place became a city park as the Friends of Gilgal, a non-profit corporation, purchased the garden with many private donations.

Gilgal Garden was donated to Salt Lake City as a public park. Budgeting for the city park system is very limited and only allows for basic maintenance of the new park (i.e. cutting the grass).

Childs hired sculptor Maurice Brooks to help him create Gilgal. It was a great collaboration as Child scoured the mouths of Utah's canyons and find suitable boulders some as big as 72 tons. This tremendous engineering feat required men, cranes and trucks and Child eventually spent it some $200,000 of his own money.

He created Gilgal Garden while tending to his other responsibilities as husband, father, grandfather. He directed the Bishop's Storehouse for the LDS Church, served as a member of the school board, co chaired the Days of '47 festivities, and directed the state unemployment agency. Child believed in work, the premier Mormon ethic.

Mayor Rocky Anderson called Gilgal an "incredible treasure," and it is now open seven days a week. Child was a great defender of peoples need to be able to express themselves.

According to Hortense Child Smith, his daughter-in-law. "He wanted to create a sanctuary where people could feel secure. Gilgal was where he could combine his love of art, geology and philosophy, where he could honor his religion and the earth under the roof of the sky."

Spend next weekend supporting this wonderful garden and seeing many other gardens

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