Draper Walkabout | Urban Living

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Draper Walkabout

Walking tours have been popular for decades, maybe centuries.

Posted By on January 27, 2016, 4:00 AM

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Walking tours have been popular for decades, maybe centuries. We are curious creatures and many of us love to learn about or revisit the past. The Utah Heritage Foundation offers guided tours of historic buildings and neighborhoods, Temple Square has a famous walking tour with volunteers ready to point out the highlights, and Visit Salt Lake created a Pioneer History Walking Tour that last three to six hours.

I recently took an unexpected tour of Draper. I rode Trax from downtown to the end of the line at 12400 South by Draper Park, got off, crossed the street and ran almost smack-dab into a triad of really old structures: the Perry & Agnes Wadsworth Fitzgerald House, the Perry Fitzgerald Cabin and the Day Barn.

Pardon me for not paying attention, Draper City, but good for you for working with national and local preservation entities to save these old buildings and for putting together a tour.

As it was dark and rainy, I didn't notice that I could have started my visit at the Intermountain Farmers Association Building—an old multi-story feed plant that's still in use selling farm equipment and supplies.

Draper gained national prominence when eggs from the town were marketed around the country 100 years ago, and chicken farmers there furnished eggs for troops in the South Pacific during World War II. The Fitzgerald house was built after the original cabin (standing next door) was flooded in the 1860s. The Day Barn, named after homesteader Henry Day, was part of a large dairy farm that was moved from its original location in 2010 by the Draper Historic Preservation Commission.

There are 12 historic structures on the Draper walking tour within a 10-block walk or bike ride. For folks who grew up in the area, the buildings represent 150-ish years of settlers and famous families of Draper. I certainly know my share of Days, Harmons, Smiths and Terrys here, and I'm guessing their roots run deep to Draper.

The Draper Smith family has a house on the tour that belonged to Lauritz and Mary Smith from Denmark. Lauritz was a blacksmith and was called by Brigham Young himself to move to Draper. He "converted gun barrels and pistols into plowshares and ox shoes" says tour literature. Both houses have been preserved and the larger home has a stone granary and a small pond where baptisms for the Draper LDS Ward were held until 1903.

I love history and uncovering hidden little treasures where I live.

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