loudly sounded at the ribbon cutting August 25, 1953 as the
Chinese Garden was dedicated at last. The International
Peace Gardens had been dedicated just one year before, and
this new garden within view of the entrance was an aesthetic
addition to the "parade of nations". The long process of
making plans for the garden after the war and resolving
setbacks like the overflowing of the Jordan river into the
Chinese plot had made this moment a satisfying one. Salt
Lake Mayor Earl Glade led the assembled party of 350 through
the traditional gate and into the exotic garden, modern yet
reflective of key elements of Chinese Feng Shui and
symbolism. The guests experienced first hand the theory of
the Chinese garden, "Each step a different view," as they
meandered over the bridge and entered the Chinese Pavilion.
A description from that year reads:
The Pavilion ramp faces the Jordan River, whose
banks are well dotted with bamboo, pines, lotuses, and water
lilies. There are weeping willows, mulberries, flowering
plums and peaches, as well as many roses, begonias,
chrysanthemums and other flowers.
Here also are rare imported magnolia trees and
citrus shrubs, gifts from the Chinese Freemasons president
from San Francisco, California.
The magnolia have long been an emblem of peace in
China and now being planted in our Peace Garden, the donors
trust they will ever remind Americans of the friendship of
Chinese loyal to the Republicans cause.
Indeed, during the mayor's remarks that
afternoon, he lauded the “truly patriotic” Chinese-American
community who had done so much "unselfishly for the cause of
democracy and toward building better communities."
student from the University of Utah, was the designer of the
garden. In true high minded fashion, the entrance to the
thirty foot gateway of wood and concrete with Chinese style
roof tiling was graced with a wooden sign engraved in
Chinese with the words “Peace Garden” in the calligraphic
hand of Dr. Wellington Koo, the former Chinese Ambassador to
the United States. A couplet on either side of the gate
"China and the West harmonious live beneath
auspicious clouds; Joyous emanations permeate the
International Peace Gardens."
In the Original plan as presented to the Peace
Gardens Committee in 1950, a massive pair of lion dogs would
stand at the entrance gate and a rockery representing
mountains and the scholarly characteristics were to be
At the dedication donors were acknowledged and
letters of congratulations were read in English and Chinese.
Mrs. Widtsoe and Reverend Robinson gave prayers, Mrs.
Wiesley, Mayor Glade and John Lach’s speeches illustrated
the history to date of the Peace Garden project. Alfred Mong
Chairman of the Chinese Garden Committee presided. Following
the ceremonies, as attendees ate delicious sandwiches with
ham and turkey stuffing, they must have imagined how far the
peace gardens ideal had come and what a paradise it would be
in the forthcoming years.
Soon the Parks department added a drinking
fountain and several benches were placed in the garden and a
stone table and benches were placed in the pavilion adding
to a leisurely atmosphere. Twenty-eight years later, the two
stone foo dogs were placed at the entrance gate, a gift from
the Chinese Cultural Center, and received by Mayor Ted
The Chinese Garden today and the “Plum Pavilion”
is still prominent as one enters the garden. The dramatic
welcome gate also remains and the monumental stone lion dogs
welcome visitors. The cement bridge with its distinct period
metal railing still spans the fish pond, however, the wooden
structures have suffered damage, (see photo gallery) and
some of the tile on the roofs are broken.
The terrazzo stone table and chairs have been
chipped lending an unkempt feeling to this wonderful
manifestation of the Chinese-American presence in Utah. The
garden is replete with many flowers in the summer, but local
varieties predominate. The magnolias, peonies, and citrus
described in old accounts are no longer to be found. The
fish pond, like other ponds at the International Peace
garden is dry and cracked which is particularly inauspicious
for a Chinese garden where water is the life force. The
garden is in desperate need of refurbishment. The Peace
Gardens International Academy feels that this garden must be
protected as one of Salt Lake’s landmarks for its historical
and international significance and for its unique
architecture showing a 1950’s modern approach to the concept
of a traditional Chinese scholar’s garden.
If you wish to contribute to a fund to preserve
and restore the Chinese Garden and its architecture, please
contact us, or click here.