Building to preserve the past; Hela Seegmiller Historic Park

The Hela Seegmiller Historic Park under construction, St. George, Utah, July 16, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — After more than a decade of planning and construction, the second phase of the 33-acre Hela Seegmiller Historic Park, managed by the City of St. George and located at 3000 E. 2450 South in St. George, is expected to be completed in early September.

Two of the most recent incorporations for this city park include a historic barn and rock house. The barn was constructed to replicate a historic structure and will serve as a pavilion for the public or for private rentals. The barn contains indoor picnic tables that can be utilized for gatherings, reunions or barbecues, St. George Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins said. The rock house will be a reconstruction modeled after an original rock house that formerly stood on another property. Rocks saved from the dismantling of that structure have been donated and will be layered onto the new rock house at the park.

This historic park is being built in memory of Hela Seegmiller who, according to historical documents, was born in St. Joseph, Nevada, on Jan. 7, 1871, and then moved to St. George, where he raised his family and farmed until he passed away on Nov. 29, 1939.

“This park will give people a feel for the hard struggle of the pioneer days, when people had to scratch out a living,” Perkins said.

The Hela Seegmiller Historic Park under construction, St. George, Utah, July 16, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

When it opens, the Hela Seegmiller Historic Park will be available for public use year-round, from dawn to dusk. Its purpose is to showcase historic buildings and farm equipment as well as provide space for a garden and land for agriculture. All of these aspects of history and farmland blend together to portray the era during which the Seegmiller family farmed the land, 1840-1900 — preserving the historical significance for future generations.

One of the key aims city planners hope to achieve with this park is passing cultural and historic knowledge to youth as housing developments increase in the St. George area and farmland decreases. The park will enable programs for educational and church groups such as 4-H and Boy Scouts.

The Hela Seegmiller Historic Park will feature role play interpreter reenactments, but only on special occasions such as for a harvest-type festivals, Arbor Day and Independence Day.

Creation of the park has been a long process, and the next phase of this city project will involve taking stock of donated farm equipment and determining how to implement and display those pieces, landscape architect Millie Cockerill said.

Master plans for the Hela Seegmiller Historic Park, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Millie Cockerill, St. George News
Master plans for the Hela Seegmiller Historic Park, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Millie Cockerill, St. George News

“The major step now is to organize the programming,” Cockerill said. “Also, to decide how we want to explain the history, such as interpretive plaques to tell the story.”

This city project began at the turn of the 21st century, when the first phase of construction began with the implementation of a farmstead and orchard toward the rear west side of the park.

The project has been a collaboration between the Seegmiller family, who donated the property in 1999; the City of St. George, which is the manager and has hired the design and construction crew; and the Jennings and Gardner families, who have donated historic farm equipment.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Kirk Huffaker July 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Seems misleading that a “historic” park has had all its historic structures removed. That’s unfortunate. What’s really being preserved here is the notion of open space and agricultural use in the St. George area, both of which are scarce enough now to truly be history to preserve.

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