Historical society opens exhibit at UCCC
Oct 06, 2017 12:22PM
By Keyra Kristoffersen
Old time West Valley City businesses that are no longer there. (Photo/Sheri Biesinger)
Sheri Biesinger has finally realized her dream to share with the public the history of West Valley City through a display at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.
“I am so excited to let the community come and see where West Valley came from,” said Biesinger. “It’s just nice to revisit it through these pictures that we have that we were able to put up at the UCCC.”
Biesinger had spent the past six years and countless hours gathering photos from residents, businesses, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the Sons of the Utah Pioneers and the Salt Lake County archives until she finally found out about the West Valley Historical Society about a year and a half ago. She joined as a volunteer to combine efforts and research. It was by accident that she heard about them and wishes she had known 10 years ago when it was formed.
“It’s a great historical society,” said Biesinger. “They collect the stories of the people. They go to someone’s house and record the stories.”
The historical society has been responsible for several projects like the sculpture and bridge design at Fairborne Station depicting a map of West Valley and the Jordan River.
When they were given the opportunity for a three-month exhibit at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, they were eager to combine their oral histories with Biesinger’s collected photos. Biesinger said that despite being the second largest city in Utah, there is no permanent base for a museum or collection to show off West Valley’s history.
“It’s hard to have things tucked away for years and years, all these precious things from Hunter and Granger, it was just extremely exciting to have the opportunity to get them out there so that the public can see them,” said Biesinger, who was born and raised in West Valley.
The exhibit focuses on photos of historical homes and businesses that were in the Granger, Redwood, Chesterfield and Hunter areas that were combined into West Valley City in 1980. Many of those buildings no longer exist.
“It’s kind of a nice display showing where we came from and what we had way back then,” Biesinger said. “A farming community with just some mom and pop stores everywhere and everyone knew each other’s names.”
Along with hundreds of photographs which took two weeks of constant work to prepare for display, there are also pieces of antique farm equipment and pioneer artifacts to see. The exhibit encompasses a time span of 130 years from 1849 to the 1980s.
Biesinger hopes that the display will help unearth more of West Valley’s past and get people interested in the history and will eventually lead to a permanent home for the collection. Until then, the historical society will continue to find and encourage others to get involved in preserving West Valley City’s past.
“We’ve gone through a lot of changes,” said Biesinger. “A lot of our historical buildings are gone. A lot of our history is gone. Hopefully, it will be a wonderful place where people can look back, look at our wonderful display, and remember.”
The exhibit will run through the end of October. The UCCC is open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment.