Five Blocks Project: Wilford Woodruff Houses

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 were originally built for Wilford Woodruff and his family. The farmhouse was one of the earliest dwellings in south Salt Lake, built in 1859. It was here that Woodruff, fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, operated farms and orchards and raised many herds of livestock. Woodruff won prizes for his produce at state and county fairs. In 1891, Woodruff built a new home near the farmhouse, The Woodruff Villa. This house was one of the largest in the area. In 1907, the family built the home next to the Villa for Woodruff's son Asahel."

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.