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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Historic committee works passionately to preserve the city’s past

Jan 05, 2023 11:14AM ● By Jolene Croasmun

A photo from 1925 of the last eighth-grade class to graduate from Butler School. (Gayle Conger/Cottonwood Heights)

The Cottonwood Heights Historic Committee met in October to discuss a photo exhibit, a commemorative plaque, a veterans’ memorial monument and other ways to preserve the history of this unique area. 

The committee recently put together an exhibit of old Butler School photographs that were on display at Cottonwood Heights City Hall. Community members were able to view them until mid-November.

Jim Kichas is the chair of the Historic Committee and has been a member since 2017. He has lived in Cottonwood Heights for 35 years. Kichas spoke about the exhibit and he would like to pull up the digital archives to identify the individuals in the photos. “We could do a theme with school photos for the Butlerville Days next year,” Kichas said. 

A recent commemorative plaque was created by the committee and installed at the roundabout on East Bengal Boulevard across from city hall. This was to recognize the historic importance of the Mori and Tashiro homes that were removed to create the roundabout.

Historic Committee member Jessica Despain said, “We already did the survey of when the homes were built, who lived there and we made a nice plaque for the history of the homes.” The homes were not in the original condition before they were taken down. Despain added, “Sad to lose them but there was not much push back to remove the homes for the roundabout.” 

The committee had been looking into a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument for city hall to honor veterans.

Cottonwood Heights Culture Manager Ann Eatchel commented about the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. “There are lots of restrictions and we have to follow exactly what they want and how they want it.” Eatchel mentioned that Sandy City Hall has one of these monuments. “This type of monument is for the families who lost a person in the community and we want to consider a monument that would honor all the veterans lost from our community.”

Despain brought up the question about historic subdivisions. “We have a lot of subdivisions. Some towns only have one subdivision and Cottonwood Heights has a lot of historic subdivisions that are the appropriate age range to be part of the historic district.”

Committee member Gayle Conger said, “Historic districts' requirements need to meet all of the homes in the subdivision. Only about 50% of the people in the subdivision would want to do this.” That would not be enough to qualify the entire subdivision.

The individuals on the committee range from real estate agents to a film documentarian; each member brings their own personal experience and talent to the group. Several board members live in historic homes and many have lived here for over 30 years. All of them have a passion for the history of this place.

Conger has lived in the same home almost all of her life. Her house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was obtained by her great grandfather in 1872. Conger is considered the walking encyclopedia of Cottonwood Heights history. Conger believes that knowing the history of the area creates a sense of community.

Ken Verdoia is the vice chair of the committee and has had a long career in journalism and television documentaries and wants to produce a professional film about the history of the people from Cottonwood Heights. Verdoia and Kichas would like to interview members of the community on film. Verdoia suggested that to start this project, they would begin interviewing several of the committee members. Questions like, “Where people lived, when they lived there and just the history of Cottonwood Heights,” Verdoia said.

The committee will continue to work on a digital archive and recorded history with individuals who have a long legacy to the community. 

Carol Woodside is the secretary and has been a member of the Historic Committee since 2013. Woodside retired from fundraising for Primary Children’s Hospital Foundation. “My family, the Winn family, bought their land from the Hiltons in 1928. I enjoy being on this committee, there are a lot of fun people.”

Committee member Beverly Beckstead has been on the committee for a couple of years. “My family came out here in 1906,” Beckstead said. Beckstead is an ancestor of the David Allen Hilton family that purchased the land when the area was called Butlerville.

Jerry Christensen is a committee member and has lived in Cottonwood Heights for over 60 years. “I am a chair of Brighton High’s legacy committee and also write for the City Journals,” he said. Christensen brings his experience of research and public relations skills to the historic committee.

The Cottonwood Heights Historic Committee is popular with other local communities. “We all start by sharing and creating a network,” Verdoia said.

The history that happened in Millcreek, Draper and other local areas also happened in Cottonwood Heights. These small local communities are cities that are divided by artificial boundary lines. “We are held up in high esteem around the city as a group that is doing it right,” Kichas said.

The Cottonwood Heights Historic Committee is looking to add more members. Any resident of Cottonwood Heights who has a love of the local history can apply to be on the committee. If interested visit and fill out an application.