Medical and quilt museum connects visitors to Utah pioneer legacy


    By Jacqueline Lee

    SALT LAKE CITY – This Is The Place Heritage Park dedicated its newest addition, a replica of the Deseret Hospital, on Saturday, Oct. 25.

    Boyd Christensen, who organized the dedication, said the hospital would “add a legacy of medical history of the past.”

    Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quorum of the twelve apostles offered the dedicatory prayer for the new building. It is part of the park”s Old Deseret Village, a living community built to recreate the life in historic Salt Lake City.

    Former Surgeon General Antonia Novello was also at the dedication.

    Christensen called Novello “a real friend to the first presidency and the LDS medical community.”

    The original Desert Hospital was built in 1856 on what is now the West High School football field on 200 N. 200 West. Before the building became a hospital, the building was a school called Union Academy, a forerunner for the University of Utah.

    Eliza R. Snow, the General Relief Society President of the time, organized the hospital after the prophet urged the women of the church to take responsibility for the medical needs in the valley.

    The hospital mostly served women who contracted diseases from their journey across the plains, with birth complications, ill babies and accident victims from the surrounding copper mines. Amputations were also performed at the hospital.

    The hospital operated for only six years until it closed in 1890 due to lack of funds. The building was torn down in 1932.

    The newly dedicated Old Deseret Hospital replica has a medical museum on the first floor as well as a quilt museum on the upper floor.

    The quilt museum has a collection of 30 antique quilts.

    Quilting has long been an expression of love and concern, Christensen said.

    Christensen”s wife, Jean Christensen, provided the museum with many antique quilts she has collected. One dates back to the year Joseph and Emma Smith were married.

    The Hospital and quilt museum addition to the Old Deseret Village depict pioneer life 150 years ago. Other buildings include replicas of a social hall, a granary, a schoolhouse, the old Deseret News building and various shops and homes.

    This Is the Place Park Heritage Park is located on 800 S. Sunnyside Drive in Salt Lake City, the place where the first Mormon pioneers entered the valley in 1847. The park teaches visitors about Utah history and gives a glimpse of what life was like for the settlers. The park has been entirely funded by private donations and is kept up by many volunteers.

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