After a three-year struggle, Gilgal Garden is safe.
Friends of Gilgal Garden, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the unusual sculpture garden, 479 E. 500 South, announced Monday that its sale by the Henry Fetzer family to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land has been completed.
The Trust for Public Land turned the park over to Salt Lake City for perpetual maintenance.
"Gilgal will offer people a place to enjoy a quiet, reflective moment in their busy lives," Mayor Rocky Anderson said. "Places like this are vital to the health of our neighborhoods."
The Fetzer family, which gained ownership of the garden from original sculptor Thomas Child, was tired of maintaining the half-acre park and wanted to get some money out of it, either through development or sale.
It did — $600,000 worth. Friends of Gilgal Garden raised the purchase price through donations by Salt Lake County, the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, the LDS Church and other donors.
The garden has fallen into disrepair over the years, and admittance has been limited to Sundays. After some initial repair work, the public will be admitted for tours and cultural programs.
However, garden advocates say, there is still a lot of work to be done to bring it up to snuff. Friends of Gilgal Garden will continue to exist to finance restoration costs. Donations can be made at any Zions Bank branch. Call 519-0871 for more information.
Local artists and art historians have long called for the garden's preservation, because it contains unique sculptures such as a sphinx with the head of LDS prophet Joseph Smith, a warrior with an unshaped rock for a head, another warrior in pieces on a hillside and other quirky scripture-based sculptures.
"A small number of remarkably interesting untrained artists have created work both provocative and delightful, and very telling as to the culture from which they arise," said University of Utah art professor Robert Olpin. "Such a creation is Gilgal."