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South Salt Lake Journal

Historic Scott School opens newly renovated Redwood Building

Feb 09, 2024 03:32PM ● By Jesse M. Gonzalez

Students, staff and city officials gather for the ribbon cutting at the Historic Scott School. (Photo courtesy of Jen Hill/South Salt Lake)

On Dec. 8, the Historic Scott School opened their newly renovated Redwood Building.  There was a ribbon cutting and over 50 people attended the open house hosted by the city of South Salt Lake.  

“Each building on this campus has a unique story that adds to the history of our community,” said Sharen Hauri, who was the leading project manager.  

“This is significant in that it is the first major interior renovation of any of the Scott School campus buildings in about 50 years,” said Joseph Dane, a community outreach coordinator.  “Constructed by pioneers in 1848, Scott School was one of the first schools built in Utah to teach children and is currently the longest continuously operating education center in the state.”

As the name implies, Historic Scott School, located at 540 E. 3280 South, has a rich history in the community. “In 1908, the name changed to Granite High School after three other schools consolidated students into Scott School, making it the first consolidated school district in the U.S.,” Dane said.

When Granite High School started to develop on the south side of 3300 South, Scott School kept its original name and continued having their class sessions in the building, even ephemerally teaching gym in the basement. “In 1917, parts of a building from Buena Vista were moved and reassembled to become the shop class. An auto mechanic building was later added,” Hauri said. 

Those buildings were transferred over to the school and constructed together for the south end of the Redwood Building. “In the 1950s, the conglomerate of spaces that was the Redwood Building was used for arts and craft classes, including evening classes taught by Mrs. Glenn Beeley. The auto shop converted to what is now the Art Room, and a puppet theatre was added,” Hauri said. 

“After 100 years as a school, it began to be used by The Pioneer Craft House organization, which formed in 1947 to celebrate the Utah centennial anniversary,” said Dane.  “A joint use agreement by The Pioneer Craft House, Salt Lake County Recreation, and Granite School District was led for many years and much of the coordination and organization was led by Mrs. Glenn Beeley, who is honored with a plaque on the property.”

In 2007, the school district sold the property to the City of South Salt Lake. “The City successfully received a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks program to purchase the property. Today, South Salt Lake continues a decades-long tradition of keeping the campus open for community learning programs that serve youth, arts and cultural traditions,” Dane said. 

“In 1964, a major addition was added to the north—the Great Hall. This distinctive space is considered the first example of California Modern Architecture in Utah, and was designed by Fred Montmorency, one of the founders of MHTN Architecture,” Hauri said. “Today, the wood interior trim, soaring ceiling and fireplace are a cozy place to meet. When it first opened, it was a place of distinction, used by community leaders and dignitaries such as the governor, but off-limits to Granite High students.”

South Salt Lake employees came up with the Redwood Building’s name when the property was acquired. “They attempted to give logical names to each building, which were all painted red,” Hauri said. “The Redwood Building had a distinctive cedar shake roof and two redwood trees next to it. The room names inside the building have changed over time to suit the purpose, but for the most part still use the original names to pay homage to the building’s history—great hall, art class and classroom.”

Renovation began in the early spring of 2023 with an approximate cost of $200,000. The project was funded by CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) through the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development. “The interior renovations followed the original architectural design of the building by MHTN Architects, included construction to comply with all ADA standards, added an additional bathroom and kitchen for serving youth meals, and new office space for Promise SSL staff,” Dane said.

“The South Salt Lake Department of Neighborhoods oversaw the renovation project and contracted with Carbon Architects for the interior design and Maddox Construction for the demolition and construction. The event was coordinated and facilitated by the South Salt Lake Department of Neighborhoods and Promise South Salt Lake,” Dane said.

The ribbon cutting event was met with comments by South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood, Dina Blaes, Salt Lake County Director of the Office of Regional Development, and Kelli Meranda, Director of Promise South Salt Lake. “Promise SSL after-school program youth helped hold and cut the ribbon and were the first to enter the building,” Dane said.  

“Following the ribbon cutting, an open house was held to welcome the public inside the newly renovated building for the first time since construction began earlier this year. Guests took part in building tours, history exhibits, refreshments, kids’ craft activities and live music,” Dane said.

The historical treasure and landmark that is the Historic Scott School has greatly and positively impacted a multiplicity of individuals’ lives through education and community integration, and as further restoration follows, the school will continue to uphold its tradition and its values. 

“As funding allows, South Salt Lake will continue to renovate, restore and preserve the property and allow it to breathe and shine as it did 100 years ago in its heyday,” said Dane.  “Ideally, the city will be able to register the Historic Scott School Community Center with the National Register of Historic Sites through the National Parks Service as well as the Utah State Register.”

“This will require renovations to the exterior buildings of Scott School and Redwood Building that will restore them to their original character and facade. In the near future and pending funding, the city plans to renovate the interior of the original Scott School building to enhance and expand community arts and cultural programming,” Dane said.

“South Salt Lake is very fortunate as a community to have this historic treasure,” Dane said. “So many of our landmarks have been demolished over the years, including Granite High. South Salt Lake is committed to preserving the Historic School Community Center for the memories of all who have learned here and will continue to teach and enrich future generations. South Salt Lake will be planning and fundraising in the coming years and welcome anyone who is interested in getting involved.” 

As information becomes available, it will be posted on the city’s website at λ