Author Archives: Juli Huddleston

Wasatch Springs Plunge

Published / by Juli Huddleston / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Julia Huddleston

Placed By: Division of State History. The building is on the national register of historic places

GPS: 40.789, -111.900

Historical Marker Text:

Built near several warm springs, the Wasatch Springs Plunge is significant for its Mission style architecture and as an early municipal recreational facility. The warm springs along this portion of the Wasatch Fault were used by Native Americans even before the arrival of the Mormon pioneers who quickly developed the springs and constructed numerous bathing facilities, praising the warm sulphurous [sic] water for its curative and rejuvenating qualities. This substantial masonry building was built by Salt Lake City in 1921 and replaced earlier frame buildings.

Designed by the noted local architecture firm of Cannon and Fetzer, the building exemplifies the Mission Style. The stuccoed walls, red tile roofs, curvilinear parapets, arched openings and arcades are characteristic of the Mission style which emanated from California at the end of the nineteenth century and was based on the old Catholic missions.

Due to problems with the water, deterioration of the structure, construction of newer pools and changes in demographics, the facility fell into disuse in the 1970s and was closed. It was later rehabilitated and reopened in 1983 as The Children’s Museum of Utah.

Marker placed in 1993.

Extended Research:

Built in 1921, the Wasatch Springs Plunge served as a municipal pool for fifty years, tapping into the natural hot springs at the far northern end of Salt Lake City. The building, located at 840 North and 300 West was built by noted architectural firm Cannon and Fetzer and is a striking example of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. In its heyday, the building had two pools, administrative offices, several private soaking tanks, a barbershop, a hairdresser, and men and women’s masseurs. Additionally, there were also five rooms available for overnight guests.[1]

The Warm Springs have been utilized by all groups of people who call this region home. Historian Kathryn MacKay notes, “The 2-3 mile strip of hot springs and lake had been used for preceding centuries by the American Indians – Shoshones, Utes, Paiutes – who traveled through the area on hunting, foraging, trading, and social expeditions.”[2] It is likely that white fur trappers who were known to have visited the adjacent area also visited the springs. The first written encounter with the springs comes from a California-bound group, who followed Hastings Cutoff in 1846, and wrote of the warm water and its distinctly unpleasant odor. Erastus Snow, who, along with seven others, arrived in advance of Brigham Young’s wagon train, wrote about the Warm Springs on July 22, 1847. After describing the location, and the rocks nearby, he noted the temperature by writing, “We had no instrument to determine the degree of Temperature but suffice it to say that it was about right for scalding hogs.” Snow decided “The springs are the greatest facilities for a steam doctor I ever saw.” [3]

Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 1.” Courtesy Utah State History.

The permanent Euro-American settlement of the Salt Lake valley also marks the beginning of human-made structures intended to enhance the enjoyment of the natural springs. The springs were considered to have healing properties and were marketed not only for recreation but also for medicinal uses. In 1850, the Bath House opened and was within the purview of the neighboring Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) 19th ward bishop’s responsibilities. By 1864, this building had fallen into disrepair and was no longer operated by the LDS Church. Over the next several decades the facilities were used for recreational purposes and, in 1916, Salt Lake City assumed ownership. It was at this point when the current structure was built and would remain in near-constant use for the next 85 years.

Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 15.” Courtesy Utah State History.
Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 14.” Courtesy Utah State History.
Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 16.” Courtesy Utah State History.

This period of the building’s history was not without problems. In 1946, concerns were raised over the sanitation of the water, and the city initially suggested chlorinating the pools. However, chlorine mixed with sulfur produces noxious chemicals, harmful to swimmers. As a compromise, the city decided to cap the natural hot springs, and the space was converted to a fresh-water, chlorinated pool.[4] Around that time, the pools began losing their appeal, and by the mid-1970s, they were no longer financially sustainable and were shuttered for nearly a decade before the Children’s Museum of Utah moved into the space in 1981.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, detail showing the Wasatch Springs Plunge in 1950. University of Utah Marriott Library, Print and Journal Division.

Today, the future of the building is unknown. Placed on the historic registry in 1980, the building has not been occupied full-time since the Children’s Museum of Utah moved out in 2006. The Golden Spike Train Club of Utah uses the space to house and work on their model railroad projects, but their future there is not guaranteed.[5] In 2016, Salt Lake City began accepting proposals for development, but eventually ruled out the possibility of putting housing on the site. A local organization, the Warm Springs Alliance, is advocating for the building to be used as warm springs once again.[6] However, this proposal faces significant financial hurdles. As of spring 2019, the building’s future is unknown, but there is no shortage of interest and enthusiasm for utilizing this historic gem in downtown Salt Lake.

Wasatch Springs Plunge in February 2019.
Wasatch Springs Plunge in February 2019.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Erastus Snow Journal, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.

Secondary Sources:

Lutz, Susan Juch. “Cleaned Up and Cleaned Out: Ruined Hot Springs Resorts of Utah.” GHC Bulletin (Energy and Geoscience Institute, University of Utah), 2004.

Jones, Darrell E. and W. Randall Dixon. “’It Was Very Warm and Smelt Very Bad’: Warm Springs and the First Bathhouse in Salt Lake.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 4 (2008): 212-226.

MacKay, Kathryn. “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Wasatch Springs Plunge.” United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, 1980.

McFarland, Sheena. “Whatever happened to … Wasatch Springs Plunge?” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 23, 2014.

McLane, Michael. “The Children’s Museum.Mapping SLC, http://www.mappingslc.org/this-was-here/item/243-the-children-s-museum.

McLane, Michael. “Past and Present Collide at Warm Springs.” Catalyst Magazine, December 1, 2017.


[1] Kathryn MacKay. “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Wasatch Springs Plunge.” United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, 1980, 9.

[2] MacKay, “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form,” 6.

[3] Erastus Snow Journal, July 22, 1847, as quoted in Darrell E. Jones and W. Randall Dixon. “‘It Was Very Warm and Smelt Very Bad’: Warm Springs and the First Bathhouse in Salt Lake.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 4 (2008): 212-226.

[4] MacKay, 9.

[5] Michael McLane. “The Children’s Museum.” Mapping SLC. http://www.mappingslc.org/this-was-here/item/243-the-children-s-museum. Accessed March 15, 2019. See also http://www.goldenspiketrainclubutah.org/ for information on the model train organization.

[6] http://www.warmspringsalliance.org/

Joseph F. Steenblik Park

Published / by Juli Huddleston / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Julia Huddleston

View of Steenblik Park, February 2019.

GPS Coordinates: 40.787, -111.92H

Historical Marker Text:

Joseph F. Steenblik was a friend of youth and a builder of men in cultural, physical, and spiritual activities. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1904, he lived in the Rose Park area since 1908. Over the years, Joseph promoted many scout activities, such as Scout-O-Rama, and chaired scout fund drives. In addition to his support of the Boy Scouts, Joseph recognized that girls need outdoor outings as much as boys. He was instrumental in the organizing and building of the Rose Park Library, Rose Park Gymnasium, and the local church Stake House. He was a good example of a Good Samaritan, kind to the less fortunate, good to his employees, and exemplified the values of dependability and hard work.

Open 8:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.

Leashed dogs only

No alcoholic beverages

Dairy Cats

2007

Day Christiansen

The “Dairy Cats” were developed with the Steenblik Dairy, a longtime presence in the Rose Park Neighborhood, in mind. The cats are sited so children and adults can enjoy them as they visit or walk through Steenblik Park. The four cats are cast in bronze with variations in patina resulting in a diversity of colors combined with the classic richness of bronze.

“Dairy Cats” is a project of the Salt Lake City public art program, managed by the Salt Lake City Arts Council under the direction of the Salt Lake City Art Design Board. Thanks to the neighborhood representatives who assisted with the project, and also to the City Council member Carlton Christensen, Rose Park Community Council, SLC Parks, SLC Housing and Neighborhood Development, SLC Engineering, and the Department of Community Development.

Dairy Cats by Day Christiansen.

Extended Research:

Joseph F. Steenblik Park is a pocket park located in the heart of the vibrant and closely-knit Rose Park neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City. Real estate developer Alan Brockbank gave Rose Park its name after he saw a corner market store with blooming rose bushes, which the storeowner credited to the fertile soil in the area. Inspired by the roses, Brockbank gave the new streets names of unusual rose varieties such as American Beauty, Rambler, Talisman, Sonata, Autumn, Debonair, and Nocturne.[1] Rose Park consists primarily of one-story red brick houses, with an architectural cohesion not often found in Salt Lake’s other older neighborhoods.

Even though many of the homes are close to seventy years old, this is not the first housing development to occupy the space. By 1911, the Oakley Park subdivision had become home to many railroad employees of various races, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds due to the proximity to the railroad yards outside downtown Salt Lake City. However, by the mid-1940s the neighborhood was badly blighted, and the health department gave residents an ultimatum to “rid themselves of a collection of horses, cows, stray dogs, hogs, ducks, turkeys, chickens, and goats” or move elsewhere.[2] Brockbank, who created the master plan for the new 2,000-home Rose Park subdivision in 1946, expedited this cleanup effort to meet the post-WWII demand for affordable housing for growing families. While not initially wholly positive for the residents (the new subdivision implemented regrettable restrictive covenant clauses prohibiting people of color from purchasing homes), the area rebounded and is once again welcoming and inclusive, boasting one of the highest rates of racial and ethnic diversity in the Salt Lake valley.[3]

Detail from Sanborn Fire Insurance map showing the Oakley Park subdivision in 1911. Marriott Library Special Collections, Print and Journal Division.

Throughout all these changes, the Steenblik family proved to be a consistent and influential presence in the neighborhood. Joseph F. Steenblik, along with his extended family, was instrumental in both the history and growth of the area. Born in 1904 in Salt Lake City, his parents had emigrated from the Netherlands the year previously. The family moved to Rose Park in 1908, where Joseph and several siblings lived for much of their lives. The family owned and operated Steenblik Dairy, a small-scale dairy farm that supplied milk to Salt Lake’s west side.[4] The dairy, which was located adjacent to the family home at 1442 W. Leadville Avenue, was established around 1920 and was operational into the 1970s. [5] After serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to Holland, Steenblik married Ruth Reid, and the couple had seven children.

Joseph F. Steenblik’s home, adjacent to Steenblik Dairy. Tax assessment photograph, 1936. Courtesy Salt Lake County Archives.

In addition to working on the family dairy farm, Joseph, alongside his brother Roelof, operated a construction company—Steenblik Construction—which was incorporated in 1952. They were instrumental in aiding with the construction of the Rose Park Stake House, an impressive and unusually large meeting place for the local Latter-day Saint congregations. The building has two chapels, allowing for simultaneous worship services, two meeting halls for social gatherings, a courtyard, a gymnasium, as well as a detached recreation building. Steenblik served as the Stake president (an ecclesiastical position roughly equivalent to a bishop over a Catholic diocese) in addition to other important religious leadership roles.[6] Joseph F. Steenblik died in 1991, at the age of 87.

Steenblik Dairy, commercial tax assessment photograph, 1978. Salt Lake County Archives.

The Joseph F. Steenblik Park was built in 1984 with federal block grant funding, and was named in the “Name the Park” competition proposed by Mayor Palmer DePaulis.[7] In 2007 Salt Lake City commissioned local artist Day Christiansen to create a work of public art that would be emblematic of the neighborhood. Paying homage to Steenblik Dairy, his sculpture Dairy Cats consists of four five-foot tall bronze statues of seated cats that represent mouser cats often found on farms. The park pays tribute to Joseph F. Steenblik and his family’s lasting legacy in Rose Park. His influence is still visible throughout the neighborhood, and has contributed to the vibrancy and resiliency of the community.


[1] Charles L. Doane, Leo W. Russon, Archie S. Hurst, Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History 1955-1980: A Sesquicentennial Project,(Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, Inc. 1980).

[2] Richard W. Bernick, “S. L. Demands West Side Area Cleanup,” Salt Lake Telegram, 6 August, 1948.

[3] Chris Dunsmore, “Rose Park,” Mapping SLC, http://www.mappingslc.org/this-was-here/item/151-rose-park, March 7, 2019.

[4] “Roelof Steenblik Obituary,” Salt Lake Tribune,  December 26, 2002.

[5] Doane, Russon, and Hurst, Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History 1955-1980: A Sesquicentennial Project, Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, Inc. 1980, 2.

[6] Doane, Russon, and Hurst, (Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History) 207.

[7] Susan Lyman, “Mini-Parks Neighborhood Folk Heroes Find Their Place in the Shade,” Deseret News, August 28, 1988. Accessed via the Deseret News online archive.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Richard W. Bernick. “S. L. Demands West Side Area Cleanup.” Salt Lake Telegram, 6 August, 1948.

Alan Brockbank papers, Ms 604, Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah.

Roelof Steenblik Obituary.Salt Lake Tribune.  December 26, 2002.

Salt Lake County Tax Assessment Records, Salt Lake County Archives.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, University of Utah Marriott Library.

Secondary Sources:

Doane, Charles L., Leo W. Russon and Archie S. Hurst. Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History, 1955-1980: A Sesquicentennial Project. Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, 1980.

Dunsmore, Chris. “Rose Park.” Mapping SLC, http://www.mappingslc.org/this-was-here/item/151-rose-park. March 7, 2019.

Lyman, Susan. “Mini-Parks: Neighborhood Folk Heroes Find Their Place in the Shade.The Deseret News, August 28, 1988.