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Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center thriving on a shoestring budget

Jul 27, 2017 03:00PM ● Published by Carl Fauver

Madi and Olivia Martin get a taste of what sitting in class was like a century ago. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

Gallery: Heritage Center [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

The 111-year-old former Jones Dairy House continues to thrive as the Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center. But the volunteer city committee that operates the historic facility says it’s an on-going challenge.

“The city gives us an annual budget of $2,000,” said Historic Preservation Committee Chairwoman Connie Taney. “None of us get paid, which is OK because preserving the past is near to our hearts, but maintaining everything inside this old home, next door at the old dairy store and all over the rest of the property costs money.”

Of all the committee members, no one is any more emotionally tied to the home—and adjacent dairy building—than Taney, whose grandfather David Jones purchased the property in 1918. The home was 12 years old then.

Appearing before the Taylorsville City Council, Taney presented a wish list of capital improvements needed at the site, on 4800 South near 1500 West.

“The city had a crew come out right away to make some sidewalk and driveway repairs,” she said. “But we still need new paint on the front steps, a new computer system for records maintenance and repairs to an exterior support beam that suffered wind damage.”

That’s a big part of Taney’s life: keeping a checklist of necessary repairs—and reminding city officials of the value of the property it purchased 15 years ago.

Audrey Jones—Taney’s mother—was the eighth of David and Clara’s nine children.

“I have so many fond memories of my grandparents in this home,” Taney said. “When they passed the home to my uncle, and he eventually put it up for sale, I met with the mayor to try to save it.”

Fearing a bulldozer might have its way with the old home, Taney met with then-Mayor Janice Auger in 2000 to pitch her on having the city purchase the property. 

Less than two years later, Taylorsville City officials made the purchase for $500,000. And Taney found herself in charge of the city’s newly-created Historic Preservation Committee.

One of the first people to join her on the committee was Margaret Player.

“I think I’ve hung every picture in this restored house and did nearly all of the flower arrangements,” Player said. “I also love doing the finances and guiding field trip tours.”

Each spring, the committee sends letters to area elementary schools, inviting them to visit the site for free. The Granite School District normally send kids by the hundreds, during the final weeks of their school year.

“Last year, we had 15 school tours, ranging in size for 30 to more than 100 students,” said the committee’s designated grant writer, Joan White. “We cover the costs of their busses and the classes often have picnic lunches out on our lawn. They seem to enjoy it, and the students leave knowing a little bit more about their history.”

To fund the field trips, each year White sends a grant request to Salt Lake County for Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) funding.

“Last year we received $4,500,” White added. “But this year we have a little more money in our own account, so I only requested $4,000.”

While adults may be more interested in the antique furnishings inside the home, Taney said nearly all the kids seem to take more of a shine to what’s out back.

“We rent indoor animal pens to a couple of local residents,” she said. “We have sheep, goats, chickens and a new litter of piglets.”

Directly west of the historic home, the old Jones Dairy store building is available to rent for family reunions, wedding receptions and other events. Last year the committee raised nearly $3,400 through rentals there.

“Between the rentals, grant money and our budget from the city, we keep afloat pretty well,” Laney added. “And, of course, we always accept donations from people who walk through.”

The Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center is open Tuesday mornings, Wednesday evenings, Saturday afternoons and by appointment.

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