Monday, June 13, 2011

Pioneer Park in Provo

   Pioneer Park in Provo is one of my favorite areas in Provo, and one of the best parks in town.  The park is one of the oldest in Provo and is over 100 years old.  I found a great picture of it from around the 1920s:

Photo Courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University

Here is what the park looks like currently:

     There are a couple of big differences between the park today and what it looked like almost 100 years ago.  The biggest difference is the pavilion.  There is actually a plaque in front of the current picnic area that commemorates the old pavilion:

     The plaque is a little hard to read in the picture, but it says, "Provo Bandstand, Pioneer Park: Circa 1930-1991 [I found somewhere else that the pavilion was actually built in the 20s, so the construction date is a little questionable]: A grateful community dedicates this marker in honor of the business and professional women's club of Provo.  The Provo bandstand was funded and build under their direction to encourage the public performance of music and the arts.  The many activities held at the bandstand enriched the quality of life in the city which they loved."
     The bandstand was used mainly for concerts.  However, the concerts began to attract more people than the park could handle and they were moved to North Park, located at 500 N 500 W.  After moving the concerts, the bandstand was only used a couple of times a year.  Over time, the bandstand fell into disrepair.  It was eventually described as an eyesore in addition to a safety hazard.

     Around 1991, there was a lot of discussion about the bandstand and whether to renovate it or to construct something completely different (you can find discussion about it here, here, and here).  Provo City Council set aside $15,000 to renovate the bandstand, although it was initially speculated that the renovation would cost around $22,500 (although potentially up to around $40,000).  Provo was having difficulty raising the funds, and due to this and the lack of events being held at the location, Provo City decided to tear down the bandstand and construct a picnic pavilion.  I am a little confused because from what I can tell the cost of constructing the picnic stand came at the same cost of refurbishing the stand.  The compromise by the City Council was to put up a plaque memorializing the stand (which is shown in the photograph above).  The best quote that I found about the demolition of the band stand was from Mike Leventhal, director of the Utah Historical Foundation, who described the demolition and plaque as "we killed your grandmother, but here's a picture of her."
      The other big change involves an old canal that ran through the park.  The canal ran north and south along the east side of Pioneer Park (along 5th W).  The only picture that I could find of it is courtesy of the Daily Herald:

Around 2005, the canal was closed and filled because it was stated as a safety hazard.  However, recently plans have been created to rebuild some type of water feature at Pioneer Park.  The plan is to create a fountain like feature in front of the picnic pavilion (right where the bandstand plaque is currently located).  Construction on the project should be starting shortly, especially since construction is supposed to be completed around the beginning of Fall. It should bring back some excitement to Pioneer Park, and also add a wonderful addition to the Farmer's Market that is located at Pioneer Park and a great place for people to enjoy throughout the summer.

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