Salt Lake's Secret Garden

Gilgal Garden in downtown Salt Lake City contains 12 sculptures ringed by stones engraved with poems and passages from scripture.

sphinx, Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Salt Lake City

Rock like an Egyptian: A stonework sphinx carries Joseph Smith's face.

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A mason by trade, Thomas Battersby Child Jr. devoted the last 18 years of his life to an unpaid project: Gilgal Sculpture Garden, an exhibit tucked between houses in Salt Lake City. The garden, which Child tinkered with until his death in 1963, contains 12 sculptures and dozens of stones engraved with poems and passages from Scripture. One work combines the head of the sphinx with the face of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith. It stands near Child's monument to peace, a cluster of swords and pruning hooks protruding from the soil.

In creating the folk art glen, the artist asked himself, "Can I create a sanctuary . . . that will shut out fear and keep one's mind young and alert . . . no matter how perilous the times?" See for yourself how well he succeeded—or ask the sphinx. Information: (801) 972-7800, www.gilgalgarden.org.

Photography by Alan Huestis

This article was first published in January 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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