Council hears report on Hansen House and other restorations
EPHRAIM— The historic Hansen House and other cabins at Pioneer Park are now renovated and ready for public display, according to an update given by a representative from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) at the Ephraim City Council meeting last Wednesday.
Sarah Thomas, speaking on behalf of the DUP, said, “The Hansen House is now a safe museum where we can display pioneer relics, give tours, and… keep our heritage alive. We have had a lot of miracles for all this work to be done.”
Beginning last summer, with funding from grants and donations, the Sons of Utah Pioneers (SUP), Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP), and many other community volunteers, including missionaries and Ephraim Youth Council members, began repairing the historic Hansen House and other pioneer cabins at the Pioneer Park.
Built in 1862, the Hansen House was built of uneven stones and mud and covered on both sides with adobe. Over time, the building had fallen into disrepair, and the amount of work needed to renovate and restore the house was sizable.
“We went through 12 layers of wallpaper on the inside,” Thomas said. “When we began renovation, the end of the Hansen House was literally falling off the rest of the building, and the walls were starting to fall in. Now, with the walls and roof renovated, it will last for a long time, and we can feel confident our artifacts will be secure and protected.”
Besides the renovations to the Hansen House, roofs were put on the Bailey pioneer cabin and the granary. The Sorensen pioneer cabin roof will have to be restored later because of increased roofing prices.
Benches were also put in by new sidewalks, which were placed throughout the park so all the structures are wheelchair accessible. “This park is now a peaceful, beautiful place to sit and reflect,” Thomas said.
“When people would bring their grandparents to Ephraim, there wasn’t anywhere for them to go, and now, with the senior citizen center right there, there is. Families can go for a stroll with their loved ones, old and young, in the park.”
Thomas said the Hansen House now has a heater and air conditioning installed, which will make it easier and more comfortable to give tours. Also, the artifacts will be better protected, being temperature controlled.
“Before these improvements, we just had a sign on the door with a phone number to call if you wanted to see the house, and that didn’t work too well. About 50 families called during last summer, but we think many more didn’t call because they didn’t want to bother us,” said Thomas.
The grant also allowed security cameras to be installed. According to Thomas, over the years, there has been some vandalism to the historic structures, including rocks thrown through windows and break-ins and damage done to the interiors. The cameras should help to prevent such things from happening in the future.
The DUP wants to set up field trips for students to come visit. Students can learn about the Blackhawk War and Ephraim history, do pioneer crafts, play hoop and stick games, stack rocks to make a fort, saw wood, and do lots of other fun activities, Thomas said.
However, one item still on the to do list is bathrooms. “You can just imagine a hundred students in the park, with one port-a-potty,” said Thomas. “The other project we would like to see would be a bowery or gazebo for concerts and performances. However, those projects will have to be covered by a future grant.”
Fort Ephraim DUP is writing a memorandum of understanding with Ephraim City, which will give the city ownership of the cabins and Hansen House. The city will take responsibility for the building maintenance, and the DUP will be responsible for the artifacts in the Hansen House, log cabins and granary.
“We have a lot of people who come and say, ‘Can you tell me about my Ephraim heritage?’” said Thomas. “With this research and [easier access to these historic buildings], we have better answers for them now.”