Allen Park (Hobbitville)Ruth Larson Allen (1894 - 1985), Dr. George Allen (1894 - 1961)
Allen Park Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105, United States
Allen Park is open every day during daylight hours. There is no on-site parking, so visitors are encouraged to use public transportation.
About the Artist/Site
The land beneath Allen Park was historically home to the Fremont civilization and later Numic speaking tribes including the Goshute, Northern Shoshone, and Ute tribes. The land runs adjacent to Emigration Creek, one of the seven major water tributaries into the Salt Lake Valley from the Wasatch Mountains.
When the Mormon pioneers emigrated to Utah, their first wagons likely passed through Allen Park as they followed Emigration Creek into the valley. After passing through several hands, about eight acres were purchased by Dr. George Allen and his wife Ruth Larson Allen in 1931. Dr. Allen was a local industrial doctor and was widely known for his wildlife conservation passion. He headed up the local committee to start Utah’s first official zoo and envisioned his new acreage to be a place to raise and display avian wildlife.
The Allen House was completed in 1933 in a Rustic architectural style. A small cottage and barn were converted to rental units to provide additional income for the family, while several new caged structures emerged to hold birds. With the idea that they were creating a park, the Allens opened their property to the public on Sundays for strolling.
The Allens acquired threatened cottages from mining towns and downtown Salt Lake City and moved them to the site between 1940-1948 to provide additional rental units. Ruth Allen managed the rental business, but as a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago (in fashion) she had artistic abilities. The Allens began to produce art, mainly in the form of mosaic tile panels, that were scattered throughout the park. They are found as stand-alone vertical pieces, embedded in stone and concrete light posts, and embedded in concrete and stone walkways. The Allens also designed and constructed unique fencing and pillars, masonry walls, sculpture, fountains, pools ponds, a dining circle, and an outdoor fireplace. The site was actively used for rentals through 2020.
In 2021, Salt Lake City purchased the property out of a probate auction. The city’s goal is to create an open, public pedestrian park that highlights the unique history, preserves and enhances ecological features, and restores the artistic expressions and structures of Allen Park so that it is a one-of-a-kind regional attraction for the residents of Salt Lake City and beyond. The Friends of Allen Park continue to provide the three remaining peacocks on site with food and water in order to maintain the tie back to Dr. Allen’s original purpose for the land.
Prepared by Kirk Huffaker, Kirk Huffaker Preservation Strategies
Map & Site Information
Allen Park Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105 us
Latitude/Longitude: 40.7300629 / -111.8534557
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