Salt Lake City

Public Lands Department

Allen Park

Cultural Landscape Report: Draft Chapters

Public Lands has been working with a consultant, IO Landarch, to develop a Cultural Landscape Report for Allen Park. The CLR dives into the unique background, history and culture of the space and will help inform future decisions in the park, along with robust public engagement. The project team is finalizing the draft chapters for the CLR and will ultimately share this document with the Historic Landmarks Commission, and with the public. In the meantime, we would like to share the draft chapter outlining the Site History, which you can find by clicking here. Read about how the site has looked and changed over time, and the lasting impression that various groups, people, features and experiences have imprinted on this unique space.

What’s New at Allen Park? (1/28/2022 Update)

Allen Park is wonderfully quiet in the wintertime, but behind the scenes, your Public Lands team is anything but quiet.

We are nearing completion of a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) for Allen Park. This report will dive into the unique background, history, and culture of the space and will help inform future decisions in the park.

After completing the CLR, the next step is to develop an Adaptive Reuse and Activation plan for the park. This plan will involve robust community engagement and will act as a guiding document for activating, preserving, and reimagining Allen Park. Public engagement for this plan is anticipated to begin summer of 2022.

Meanwhile, Public Lands is responding to critical structural repairs at the park. Damage to the roof of the main Allen home is in need of urgent repair. We are working with the City’s Engineering division right now to determine the most time-sensitive and best solution. We’ve begun on-site meetings with a contractor and will soon be ready to begin work on the structure.

For the last two years, watering the trees and other plants at the park has been challenging due to aging or non-existent plumbing infrastructure, requiring staff and volunteers to hand water trees throughout the summer. We hope that construction of a water meter and irrigation at the park can begin this summer. In the meantime, our team of stewards will continue to use a pump and water tank system to water the property.

Some of the houses on the site will undergo cleaning in February, which will involve removal of some old refrigerators and water heaters.

Special thanks to the volunteers who have been helping us with watering, landscaping and other maintenance during the first two years that the City has owned the property!

History of Allen Park

Allen Park’s history first begins with its namesake- Dr. George Allen. As a doctor, he was known to have a kind heart; he took great care of the working class during the Great Depression, never turning down a financially constrained patient. Dr. Allen was also known for his eclectic interests-ranging from creating mosaic poetry to collecting and caring for exotic birds. It is important to note that he also helped launch Salt Lake City’s Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary.

In 1931, George and Ruth Allen purchased the property, known as Allen Park, which stretches for nearly two city blocks on 1300 East along Emigration Creek. The former farmland began to take form as a charming sanctuary for both birds and people with trees, shrubs, nooks, benches, poetic mosaics, fountains, and nesting boxes. At one point, you could find an elephant, chimp, reindeer, raccoon, coyote, and a sandhill crane named Sandy.

During the 1940s, Dr. Allen added 15 little hodgepodge duplexes to sustain the park financially. Over the years, students, professors, hippies, loners, and artists lived in the wonderment of Allen Park. Once the park became neglected and overgrown, the peculiar homes led to the long-standing myth that Allen Park was a “hobbitville.” 

For decades Allen Park has been loved and bemused by Salt Lake City. It is a cultural icon, between its lore, artwork, and preservation of nearly 8 acres of a unique ecosystem. Through tremendous effort between the community, grassroots organizations, and public entities, Allen Park will be preserved as one-of-a-kind public open space in Salt Lake City.

April 29, 2020

Public Input Wanted

Salt Lake City is under contract to purchase Allen Park using park-designated impact fees.

The City welcomes your feedback on what will be the City’s newest – and one of its most unique – open spaces. If you would like to share your comments or ideas for the property, provide information, or even send us your reminiscences about personal experiences with Allen Park, please share them via this survey.

We know many of you are curious about the property and wondering when Allen Park will be open to public access. Once SLC owns the property, we will be working quickly to ensure the property is safe for visitation and to complete preliminary inventories of historical and artistic elements. We will be working to provide a virtual property tour, as well as free, pre-registration guided tours of the property, in the near future. Please check back on this site periodically to look for updates. SLC Public Lands goal is to be provide open public visiting hours at Allen Park by early summer. In the interim, we thank you for your patience in respecting the site closure. Your cooperation is critical to allow the City to adequately survey and protect sensitive / fragile infrastructure on this unique property.

April 7, 2020

Important Public Notice

Salt Lake City is under contract to purchase Allen Park using park-designated impact fees.

At this time, Allen Park is still private property and closed to access. Following acquisition by Salt Lake City, Allen Park will remain temporarily closed to the public in order to protect sensitive / fragile infrastructure while the City evaluates the property and works to stabilize and protect historic structures and artworks.

Your cooperation with this temporary closure is essential to protect this property while the City works to prepare it for public access.

Thanks for your understanding.

March 31, 2020

Salt Lake City Under Contract to Purchase Allen Park Using Impact Fees

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall today announced that Salt Lake City is under contract to purchase Allen Park using park-designated impact fees, which must be spent on new park space or new park uses. The park was previously facing potential development by a former buyer.

“Allen Park is a rare opportunity to preserve almost seven acres of unique ecosystem in a historic area that would otherwise be developed by private entities,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “We have heard the request from many members of our community to use parks impact fees to purchase this land, and are grateful for an opportunity to be able to do so.”

“This is an iconic parcel in a City that needs more open space,” said Chris Wharton, City Council Chair. “We hope we will have partners to help make it an important public park soon.”

Impact fees are used to ensure that new development pays for new services, instead of residents shouldering the entire burden through taxation. As its population continues to grow, open space is at a premium as the City is already largely built out. 

Allen Park was purchased in 1931 by Dr. George Allen, an Illinois-trained physician, and his wife Ruth, an artist and fashion illustrator. The couple lived in a lodge on the property with their children and an exotic bird collection. Old homes were put on new foundations and rented out over the decades.  Allen Park will remain closed to the public while the City evaluates its potential uses and gathers community input.