Just off Main Street, in the basement of the Deseret Hospital is a closet…a closet that would have been the envy of any pioneer.
“From the fancy to the simple, we have it all covered from head to toe,” explains This is the Place Heritage Park Volunteer Coordinator Holly Curtis.
Curtis has worked at the park for three years and is known as the “closet keeper.” With that title comes the responsibility of dressing some 80 employees and more than 100 volunteer families who work the park.
“We try to cover from wrist to ankle, just because that was the style then,” Curtis explains. “It was definitely a very modest time period. There would be layers of skirts and layers up top and the guys would have their vests, shirts and, of course, a waistcoat over that. It was very…different!”
A lot of research went into that closet – clothes depict the exact colors, styles and pattern that existed in the 1800s. And some of the clothing may look familiar. Many pieces came straight off the set of the movie “Work and the Glory.”
“They got done filming their third movie and had this warehouse full of props,” Curtis said. “We were able to acquire some of their physical props, down to their rugs and along with that came the costumes.”
Fulfilling the pioneer part is about more than just costume, though. Holly also coaches volunteers on the walk, talk and lifestyle of the 1800s.
“Making sure you hide the modern conveniences like a wrist watch or the plastic water bottles is something we look out for,” Curtis explains. “We train our volunteers what it meant to live back in the 1860’s – how they would have talked, what would have been going on at that time. Our hope is that they will then share that feelings with park guests.”
People of all ages volunteer at the park, and most of the volunteers are families. Curtis says many volunteers have ancestors who have helped settle the Valley. Because of that, the park offers a unique past-to-present connection.
“People just get so excite and I think it’s that connection with past to present and learning how it use to be that makes us grateful for all we have today,” Curtis said. “Our hope is to recreate that for guests who may not know or understand it.”
If you would like more information about how to become a volunteer at This is the Place Heritage Park, call: (801) 582-1847.