Joseph F. Steenblik Park

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.



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