Each state has its own rich history, full of the stories that tell of those who came before us — their lives, their struggles, their hopes for the future. Such testimonies are still preserved on the buildings they left behind, just as our own dwellings give an accurate look at what’s most important to us.
The story of Utah is in many ways the story of America itself: a land filled by early settlers looking for religious freedom. Not only is there historic masonry dating back to the earliest pioneers but Utah is also filled with artifacts from our rich American Indian heritage.
It is the mission of Preservation Utah to protect them all from the weathering of time so that we can learn about and appreciate our forebears long into the future.
The History of the Utah Heritage Foundation
In accordance with the statutes regarding nonprofit organizations in the state of Utah — that is, to be operated exclusively for educational, religious, charitable, scientific, and literary purposes — the Utah Heritage Foundation was organized in 1966, with formal state incorporation coming in 2003.
Since that time, they have worked with state and municipal governments to protect the integrity of Utah’s most at-risk sites, their current motto being to “keep the past alive, not only for preservation, but to inspire and provoke a more creative present and sustainable future.”
Three Crucial Questions
This mission, of bringing meaningful restoration to Salt Lake City and the rest of Utah, is accomplished as they lead their efforts with three important questions:
- How do we preserve Utah’s cultural resources in the face of constant change?
- How do we make a case for long-term preservation efforts over immediate conveniences and short-term profits?
- How do we influence the decision-making process to better balance our past with our future?
Despite enjoying major successes over the years, the Utah Heritage Foundation was running into a number of problems associated with its marketing efforts and gaining the support it needed from fellow Utahns.
A Needed Rebrand
Just as a building restoration might need to use some new materials in order to preserve the original spirit of a building, so too did the Utah Heritage Foundation need to explore the preservation of their goals by making some changes.
For decades, the message of the foundation had been mistaken by donors and decision-makers as an arm of the government, a philanthropic grant-making organization, and a tool of local churches.
In order to “get back to basics” with their mission of restoring historic masonry, the board of the Utah Heritage Foundation voted on a complete rebranding of the organization in 2016. Fifty years after its establishment, the foundation was now called Preservation Utah.
Making Friends in Building Restoration
With a new name and a clear message, the work of Preservation Utah could continue. Restoration work is no easy task, however, and the organization needed to make some new friends if it was going to accomplish meaningful work for another fifty years.
The goals for acquiring more partners were simple:
- Find reliable companies that are skilled in restoring historic masonry.
- Find partners who valued the mission of Preservation Utah who could help bear the financial burden.
- Gather resources to assist schools in educating Utah’s future leaders, our children.
- Work with various historical sites across Utah to open their doors and their history to tourists.
As the years have passed, Preservation Utah has gathered partners all across the state to assist them in their efforts to restore Utah’s priceless heritage. Together, they have accomplished many significant successes and the work goes onward.