clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ELEMENTS OF THE MORMON LANDSCAPE

Few Mormon landscape elements - except meetinghouses, tabernacles, temples and other Church buildings - are unique to LDS settlements in and of themselves, according to Gary B. Peterson. But it is the collection and grouping, the consistent pattern of community that sets apart more than 500 rural western communities and makes them uniquely "Mormon."

And Peterson points out that though some elements, such as hay derricks, can be seen throughout the midwestern United States, there is evidence to suggest those things were Mormon influenced as the early saints moved west.Here is a look at some of the characteristics typical to Mormon-settled towns throughout the West:

-Cities are square, compact, nucleated farming communities divided into blocks with wide streets. Central blocks were reserved for public buildings and the central meetinghouse and/or tabernacle and possibly other Church buildings such as the tithing and Relief Society offices.

The wide streets resulted in wide grass-lined verges, along which residents may still tether a horse, cow or sheep to graze the lush growth along the irrigation ditch.

-"Barns presided over the old blocks like weathered patriarchs of furrowed brow," says Sanpete Scenes, co-authored by Peterson and Lowell C. Bennion. Barns were of a variety of design and construction ranging from simple stock shelters to rectangular hay barns to Scandinavian barns, English log barns, carriage house barns and English two-bay barns.

English granaries and other outbuildings were evident on most blocks. Irrigated gardens, orchards and pastures set off by an array of fences added to the flavor of the quarter-block farms. Hay derricks could be seen in most every barnyard. They proved more efficient than new implements for stacking loose and later baled hay even into the 1950s.

-House types were a combination of vernacular (basic structures made from native materials) with elements of the classical revival styles from the Northeast, from where many of the saints had come. Federal and Greek Revival styles also were common.

Elements of a Federal home include a low-pitched roof, numerous large windows with thin strips separating the panes, door lights, horizontal clapboard siding and thin corner boards.

Greek Revival was an adaptation of the classic Greek temple front with columns, cornice with returns, molding trim on doors and windows, thin corner boards, a small porch with low-pitched roof and columns and horizontal clapboard siding or brick.