By Tim Vandenack Standard-Examiner – | Jan 6, 2021
KAYSVILLE — Having a museum in your community, says Fawn Morgan, isn’t just about the relics and documents it contains.
It adds an unmeasurable quality to a locale.
“If you have a physical museum, it actually increases the value of living in a community,” said Morgan. “It just contributes to the viability of a vibrant community.”
As such, Morgan is helping spearhead development of the Kaysville-Fruit Heights Museum of History and Art, which exists on paper but lacks a physical place to call home. For now, the museum’s gradually growing collection is being held at the homes of museum supporters, displaced from the old Kaysville library due to the renovation of the Kaysville City Hall building next door, which needed the space for storage.
But with the city hall renovation effort complete, museum reps are negotiating a deal to return the collection to the building, featuring a distinctive stone exterior, for storage. What’s more, the vacant former library building, first opened to the public in 1944 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered a possible home for the museum.
The old library, though, which also once housed Kaysville City offices, would require a lot of work inside to get it up to speed. And whatever the museum’s final resting place, Morgan, chairperson of the library board, says the search for a permanent home could take 10 years. Meantime, the more immediate goal is cataloguing the documents and relics representative of the history of Kaysville and neighboring Fruit Heights — old clothing, farm tools, pictures, water and tax records and more — a task Morgan hopes finishes in 2025.
“Our goal is to get them catalogued and digitized so we can put them online,” she said. Students, academics and others, then, would also be able to access pictures and copies of the items and papers, at least virtually, until a physical home is secured.
The core of the collection, from the city of Kaysville and the Stewart family, was procured just last year.
’HELPING UNIFY AND ROOT’
Formation of the Kaysville-Fruit Heights museum dates to 2017 and boosters have secured federal nonprofit status for the entity.
But even if it lacks a traditional home, those involved have come up with exhibits. One, called “A Heritage of Orchard Harvest,” is now on display at Fruit Heights City Hall, detailing the area’s history as a home to orchards. A planned exhibit to be housed at the recently upgraded Kaysville City Hall building will tentatively focus on former Utah Gov. Henry Blood, who led the state during part of the Great Depression and came from Kaysville.
TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner
The exterior of the old library in Kaysville, which was used in the past to store the collection of the Kaysville-Fruit Heights Museum of History and Art, is pictured Dec. 29, 2020. It’s also a possible future home for the entity.
“It’s possible to be a virtual museum until you’re a physical museum,” Morgan said.
And she’s determined. Many other cities in Davis County have museums, like Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington, Layton and Syracuse. Fruit Heights and Kaysville, as the first incorporated locale in the county, should have one, too.
The area where Kaysville sits was first settled by newcomers seeking a place to graze cattle. They came from the Salt Lake City and Farmington areas. “They just moved north, looking for a good place to go,” Morgan said.
The city housed the first high school in Davis County, making it a special place in the county’s early history. “Much of the leadership for Davis County came from the school and the culture of the entire area was centered here for many years during the early- and mid-20th century. With students coming from all across the county to attend school, it was the hub of many activities and focal point for the general area,” Morgan said.
Both Kaysville and Fruit Heights have since grown and prospered. A good museum is the next step, “helping unify and root the community,” Morgan said.