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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Farmington, Utah

Farmington, Utah (population 13,407), has been the seat of Davis County since 1852 and is situated on the Great Salt Lake. Settled in 1847, the small Mormon farming community helped build Utah's first courthouse in 1854-55, a two-story adobe building that for its first dozen years served both government and religious purposes.

Herder Hector C. Haight wintered cattle here in 1847-48, and five other families soon joined him to found a community at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. Settlers laid out a town to serve the area's 400 people, built a log school and several mills, and in 1854-55 partially surrounded the town with a mud wall. A meetinghouse built in 1862-64 is one of Utah's oldest still in use.

Centrally located between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Farmington remained an agricultural town for its first half century, then began to develop a commercial base and incorporated in 1892. Today, Farmington is primarily a residential community tied economically to the metropolitan areas north and south.

In the late 1800s, a number of resorts sprang up along the shores of the Great Salt Lake. One of these was Lake Park, featuring an open-air dancing pavilion and summer rental cottages. Guests enjoyed swimming, dancing, boating, a merry-go-round, roller skating, target shooting, and bowling alleys.

By the end of the first season, 53,000 guests had visited Lake Park. In 1896 the resort was moved inland to its present location and renamed Lagoon Park. Simon Bamberger of the Bamberger railroad developed the resort, which expanded to become Utah's largest amusement park and the city's largest source of tax revenue.

Rides and concerts by top popular entertainers were added, and later Lagoon Park incorporated Pioneer Village, a 15-acre restoration of Pioneer Utah with a fine collection of horse-drawn carriages and pioneer artifacts.

Rocks are a distinguishing architectural element in Farmington's major buildings. Two landmarks built of fieldstone in the 1860s—the Latter-day Saints' meetinghouse and Richards' grist mill—and a dozen pioneer rock homes helped establish that image.

A popular annual Pioneer Home Tour features 10 different homes each year as part of three days of events at the fairgrounds and in the historic downtown that attract thousands of visitors.

Farmington is a Certified Local Government and recognizes that the historical heritage of the community is among its most valued and important assets. A zoning ordinance now protects the city's original townsite by specifying acceptable uses and design guidelines.

In response to the Preserve America Initiative, the Historic Preservation Commission recently created the Zelda Tidwell Preservation Awards program to honor individuals or groups who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to the preservation of the city's historic architecture and character.

The Farmington City Historical Museum, housed in the 1907 old city hall building, opened in 2004. City officials partnered with the local Lion's Club and city residents to renovate and adaptively reuse this landmark building in the historic downtown. The museum displays hundreds of artifacts donated by resident to tell their story and attracts visitors to Farmington.

Farmington's Clark Lane Historical Preservation Association protects and interprets historic resources within Davis County's only National Register-listed historic district, and has received an award from the Utah Heritage Foundation for its work. A walking tour of the district shares fascinating information on the lives of the residents and the development of the community.

In 2003, the city purchased a vacant, historic Main Street millinery shop, restored it, and sold it to a preservation-minded buyer for business use. Through its investment, Farmington is demonstrating the economic development potential of its historic buildings in downtown revitalization.

For more information

Farmington City: www.farmingtonut.com

Lagoon Park: www.lagoonpark.com/explore_history.html

Updated May 14, 2009

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