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Located at 12441 S 900 E in Draper, Utah and designed by School District Architect Niels Edward Liljenberg, the Draper Park School was constructed in 1912, replacing an 1883 school on the same site. The building was named in honor of Dr. John R. Park, a leading figure in Utah’s educational history and early school teacher in Draper. The school originally accommodated both elementary and junior high school students. Additions were made to the south of the building in 1928 and to the east in 1963. In 1938 a mural depicting the history of education in Draper was painted on the interior by artist Paul Smith as a WPA project. The school was converted into the Draper City Hall and community center around 1980 and is the home of the Draper Historical Society.

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The Draper Park School, 1912, is significant as a structure illustrating the growing educational needs and desires of one of Salt Lake City’s rapidly growing suburban areas. Named after Dr. John R. Park, a leading figure in Utah’s educational history, the school remains a tribute to Park who also served as an early local school teacher in Draper. In addition, the building houses a mural painted by artist Paul Smith in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project. The mural depicts the history of education in Draper utilizing real characters as models, and allows present residents one opportunity to appreciate visually their past.

Draper was settled about 1850 and from its beginning showed a special interest in education. Proud of its local reputation as the “Cradle of Education” the history of Draper is marked by the construction of several school buildings to meet the educational needs of the community’s youth. The work of John Rocky Park was regarded as the first rural high school in Utah, he later became president of the University of Utah.

By 1860 Draper had outgrown its first school house. A small adobe building called the Vestry was erected. In 1863 the main hall was added. It was in this “Old White Meetinghouse” that Dr. John R. Park taught his famous village school. He came to Draper in the fall of 1861 and went to the home of Absolom W. Smith where he asked for work. Mr. Smith told him that most of the farm work was done , but he could stay there if he wished. Park told him that he would rather work; so after a good meal, Mr. Smith put him to work husking corn. Mr. Smith was a councilor to Bishop Isaac M. Stewart and also acted as one of the local school trustees. He soon discovered that Mr. Park was an intelligent, well-educated man holding an M.D. degree. Mr. Smith, with the help of other leading men, persuaded Mr. Park to remain in Draper as a school teacher. He boarded that winter at the home of Bishop Stewart and received a salary of $60 per month, one third in cash, one third in potatoes and one third in wheat.

In 1883 a new school was built where the present Draper Park School stands. This building was known as the Central School. William M. Stewart was the first principal and taught for four years. By 1890 two other schools had been built, one in the eastern part of town known as the East Side School, the other in the southern part of the community known as the South side School. These three schools operated about seven months each year and had one teacher. In 1898 the three schools were consolidated and all the pupils went to the Central School. The East Side School was torn down and the South Side School was remodeled into a residence.

Draper probably had the first rural high school in the state of Utah. In 1861 Dr. Park introduced high school subjects into the curriculum and this practice continued whenever the teacher was qualified to give such instruction. In 1902 a recognized high school was begun with J.C. Spiers as principal. It’s credits and diplomas were accepted by the University of Utah.

In 1912 the Draper School again felt the need to expand. The old building was razed and the present building was erected. It contained eleven classrooms and the principal’s office. Sources indicate the architect was N. Edward Liljenberg, architect for the School District, with C.A. Talboe awarded the contract. Nils Edward Liljenberg, a native of Sweden, was considered a leading Utah architect. He designed buildings for the Y.M.C.A. and Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and designed “many” public schools.

To provide more room and facilities for the junior high school, a new wing was added on the south of the building in 1928. This wing provided an auditorium, work shops, a domestic science section, a music room, stage, locker space, showers and restrooms. It was designed by the firm of Scott and Welch.

With some improvements and changes this building housed the junior high and elementary schools until 1954. In that year the Mount Jordan Junior High School was completed in Sandy, Utah, and students in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades went to school there. The Draper Park School was then remodeled with a new wing being added on the northeast corner. The interior was also redecorated to take care of the six elementary grades. It has thirteen classrooms equipped with modern visual aids, teachers, work-rooms, a faculty room, a sick room, auditorium, music room, library, and an up-to-date cafeteria and a modern gas heating plant.

In the lower main hallway of the Draper Park School is a beautiful mural. It depicts the history of education in Draper. The theme of the mural is “Onward and Upward”.

Current plans are to use the building as a community center.