Draper • The city Historic Preservation Commission wants to preserve a piece of the history of the Utah State Prison.
A new prison is planned west of Salt Lake City International Airport and is expected to be finished sometime in 2020, at which point inmates will be moved and the prison in Draper will be torn down. The commission wants a reminder of the lockup in its current location. This is proving difficult, however, because the prison is owned by the state and not the city.
Commissioners explained that they do not want to preserve the entire prison; they want to document it for the corrections history that has been made there. This could mean preserving a tower, placing a plaque or, perhaps, building a commemorative park.
Commissioner Todd Shoemaker believes the community would regret not preserving it.
"You have a story out there for all kinds of crimes, and it's not just the crimes. You could go out there and talk about parole officers. You can go in there and talk about volunteer groups, church groups. You can talk about the police," said Shoemaker. "Is there any place in the state where you can go to that honors that or the people involved in prison?"
Commissioners recognize that any sort of documentation or preservation would need to pay for itself to be an asset to future development on the valuable land.
Commissioner Katie Shell noted that the preservation puts money into the economy. A 2011 report prepared by PlaceEconomics for the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation states that historic preservation benefits a local economy in five general ways.
Historic preservation creates jobs, increases property values, brings revenue from tourism, protects the environment and revitalizes downtown areas.
"By protecting our historic resources, we are honoring the investments of our grandparents," the document states. "But at the same time we are helping create a healthy economy for our grandchildren."
Commissioners also noted the educational value of documentation.
Shell used to give tours at the historic Sorensen Home in Draper. She told students that the house was preserved because people before them cared about future generations and wanted them to be able to see a piece of history.
The same idea applies to the prison, Shell said.
"Maybe someday we'll have a world where crime is dealt with differently" and students can come to learn their history, Shell said. "You can see pictures, but buildings evoke more."
The commission plans to tour the prison and to contact legislators.
It has asked Korral Broschinsky, a consultant in historic preservation, to begin documentation of the prison.
The Utah State Prison opened in Draper in 1951 to replace Sugar House Prison, which stood where Salt Lake City's Sugar House Park is today. The Draper prison has housed Ted Bundy, Gary Gilmore and Ervil LeBaron.