Monday, June 6, 2011

Gilgal Garden - Mormon and Mason Symbolism in Salt Lake City

I am overdue to write about some Salt Lake City Scenes on the Byway. So, here you go...

Yesterday while out running errands, my husband took me to see this crazy little place called Gilgal Garden, also known as the Gilgal Sculpture Garden or the "secret garden" of Salt Lake.

Secret Garden is right. You would never find this hidden little downtown place if you did not know it existed and where to look for it. It is on a residential street in between two houses. The park sits back inside, so from the street it just looks like someone's yard, except if you notice the small sign. But you walk in and you find a beautiful, but very weird, sculpture garden. The world would be so boing without weirdness. I love weirdness, so I loved this place.

The garden was envisioned, designed and created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. (1888-1963). He started building the garden in 1945 in his backyard and he continued working on it until his death in 1963. He was a Mormon and a Mason and he created a retreat that spoke to his religious and personal beliefs, so the garden is full of Mormon and Mason symbolism. The name Gilgal has biblical meaning and is referenced in the Book of Mormon and translates into "circle of standing stones," which is fitting given that the garden has 12 original sculptures and 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems and literary texts.

I bet most people in Salt Lake do not know this place exists. It is worth a visit for residents and tourists. The garden is small and really only takes 5 minutes to see it all, unless you want to spend time really absorbing the sculptures, reading the numerous engravings on stones throughout, or simply hanging out and enjoying the natural beauty and peacefulness of this secret little garden.

Gilgal Garden is open to the public and is located at 749 East 500 South in downtown Salt Lake, close to Liberty Park and Trolley Square. I posted a few photos below from yesterday's visit.

Sphinx with the head of Joseph Smith - hipstamatic image.

Not sure who this is or why he has an unfinished rock for a head - hipstamatic image.
Note the Masonry and Mormon references and the painted brick pants!

More Mormon symbolism.

Note the Mason reference.

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