J. Reuben Clark's Grantsville Farm Becomes a Heritage Attraction and Tribute
When J. Reuben Clark purchased a beautiful farmstead in his hometown in 1914, he probably never imagined that a hundred years later it would become a hub for education, community events and a tourist attraction. In just the past 28 months, the Clark Historic Farm in Grantsville, Utah has seen nearly 18,000 visitors, and the Friends of Clark Historic Farm 501(c)(3) non-profit group is waging a capital campaign to secure the farm as a tribute to President Clark’s values of hard work and self-sufficiency.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the farm’s two large red barns, two granaries, wagon house and rock root cellar were originally owned by Swedish convert immigrants—Charles and Ellen Anderson—who came to Utah in 1862 and settled in Grantsville, one of three major Swedish settlements in Utah. The remarkable condition of the 125 year old farm buildings embodies the careful pioneer craftsmanship of enormous hand-hewn beams and wood peg construction. Nearly 30 years after buying it, President Clark added a large Colonial Revival-style red brick home which now houses a basement pioneer museum with a room dedicated to Clark’s exemplary life. Looking out over the expansive vista of farmland, mountains, Stansbury Island and the Great Salt Lake, it’s easy to understand why President Clark often retreated to his farm to “rejuvenate his spirit”.
Although Grantsville City purchased the farm in 2005 to create a heritage attraction, nothing materialized, and in 2010 a subsequent city council decided to instead make the farm into a cemetery. The Friends group formed in 2013 before the cemetery’s completion to plead with the city to give the heritage attraction a try, noting that a cemetery near the historic buildings would severely limit the historic farm’s future potential. Since then, events such as Baby Animal Days, a patriotic Memorial Day tribute, kids’ historic farm camps, a Lincoln Highway Centennial celebration, concerts, musical theater productions, school field trips, farmers’ market, the Utah Honey Harvest Festival and a live nativity have become a fixture—not only to the farm—but to the town of Grantsville and surrounding communities.
The Friends group recently signed a purchase agreement with Grantsville City for 2.2 acres of the 50-acre farm for $92,000 to ensure the preservation of President Clark’s farm to continue events, education, and future youth conferences, corporate retreats, weddings and family reunions. The group plans to add a multi-function indoor/outdoor pavilion, an amphitheater, bronze statues and quotation plaques, demonstration gardens and a historical village, as well as add ADA improvements and permanent interpretive signage.
Organizers feel the farm provides an opportunity to expand Clark’s influence beyond the J. Reuben Clark Law School and Law Society to inspire a universal audience, focusing on his traits of hard work learned from growing up on a farm, his love of country and of God, his value of self-sufficiency and his respect for heritage.
Fundraising efforts include a Chuckwagon Gala and Live Auction at the farm in October, corporate and individual sponsorship and naming opportunities, brick paver sponsorship and more. Chapters, firms, or individuals wishing to contribute or visit the farm can contact Laurie Hurst at 435-884-4409 or visit the web page www.clarkhistoricfarm.org.
By Laurie Hurst, Friends of Clark Historic Farm President
Posted: August 28, 2015