The Art Barn was built during the Great Depression with assistance from the City of Salt Lake, the federal Works Projects Administration, private contributors and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Alta Rawlins Jensen was one of the visionaries who worked toward the building of a community arts center that was described in the Salt Lake Telegram as "A Greenwich Village for Salt Lake." Ms. Jensen believed that despite desperate economic times, an art center could help to lift the spirit and rekindle the dreams of the community.
In March of 1931, the Salt Lake City Commission gave the Art Barn founding group permission to build in Reservoir Park. Designed by architect Taylor Woolley, a former associate of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Art Barn's projected construction cost was $10,000. The groundbreaking took place in October, 1931, and the cornerstone was laid in December of the same year. Difficulties in raising the funds necessary to complete construction delayed the official opening until June 11, 1933. Governor Henry H. Blood and Mayor Louis Marcus addressed the crowd that filled the building and the lawn surrounding it. The Art Barn has been a significant community center for arts activities since that time.
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