A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ART BARN
The Art Barn was built during the Great Depression with assistance from the City of Salt Lake, the federal Works Projects Administration, private contributors and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Alta Rawlins Jensen was one of the visionaries who worked toward the building of a community arts center that was described in the Salt Lake Telegram as “A Greenwich Village for Salt Lake.” Ms. Jensen believed that despite desperate economic times, an art center could help to lift the spirit and rekindle the dreams of the community.
In March of 1931, the Salt Lake City Commission gave the Art Barn founding group permission to build in Reservoir Park. Designed by architect Taylor Woolley, a former associate of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Art Barn’s projected construction cost was $10,000. The groundbreaking took place in October, 1931, and the cornerstone was laid in December of the same year. Difficulties in raising the funds necessary to complete construction delayed the official opening until June 11, 1933. Governor Henry H. Blood and Mayor Louis Marcus addressed the crowd that filled the building and the lawn surrounding it. The Art Barn has been a significant community center for arts activities since that time.
The road that runs through Reservoir Park in front of the Art Barn, at the insistence of the founders, was named Finch Lane to honor the Commissioner of City Parks, Harry L. Finch. Commissioner Finch had been instrumental in securing the property from the City at a lease rate of $1 per year, and in obtaining the Federal funds to hire unemployed laborers for this public building project.
Now entering its eighth decade, this space has touched thousands of people, serving artists of all disciplines and those who experienced their work. Not only has the physical facility survived, with occasional renovations and additions, but it is still serving the public as its founders intended.