Five Blocks Project: Perkins’ Subdivision

Written by  Paisley Rekdal

From Sheri Sohm's 4th grade Extended Learning Program at Hawthorne Elementary School, for the UMFA's 2012-13 5 Blocks exhibition:

"These houses, once known as a "Streetcar Suburb," represent one of the first subdivisions created in Salt Lake City in the 1890s. Many people moved away from the busy city to enjoy the clean air and natural landscape. The houses were built with modern features such as indoor plumbing, electric lights, and furnaces.

"Electric streetcars connected these suburbs to the city, a long journey by horse and carriage on dirt roads. In 1881, Salt Lake City was one of the first five American cities to have electric power. By the 1900s, the valley was covered in streetcar tracks that reached almost every neighborhood.

"'This territory was all farming country, and there were very few houses. I drove up Seventh East with my family and had a cow tied behind the buggy. I remember that there were only three houses between Ninth South and what now is Seventeenth South," said George Arbuckle."

About the writers, and about 5 Blocks:

Coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of Hawthorne Elementary School, students in Sheri Sohm's 4th grade Extended Learning Program explored the neighborhood surrounding their school in an exciting discovery of the past and present. They examined buildings and structures, natural landscapes, and small things typically overlooked. Searching with their five senses, students explored their neighborhood as a living organism where people live and affect their community: a dynamic place of change.

Students met with members of the community, posing the question: Why do places change? The students uncovered how community decisions are made, and how they can become more actively involved in shaping their neighborhood.

After walking around their school and the surrounding Liberty Wells neighborhood, each student was assigned a house to closely examine. After taking photographs and completing a series of drawings, every student created a three-dimensional artistic vision of the house.
In groups, students researched and prepared materials for the historical sites: Wilford Woodruff Houses, First Encampment Park, Perkins' Subdivision, and Chase Mill. The interesting facts they discovered are written on labels throughout the UMFA's 2012-13 5 Blocks installation, an exhibition of youth artwork created in collaboration with UMFA educators by students at Hawthorne Elementary (Salt Lake City School District) and Granger High School (Granite School District). By studying the visual stories in images from the Utah State Archives and Historical Society, students developed a deeper understanding of the places that once existed and the people who lived in the area.