The purpose of the Salt Lake Council of Women is to take an active interest in community affairs and to promote whatever may contribute to the general welfare of the communities on the Wasatch Front.
Delegates to the Council come from individual women and women’s organizations in the Salt Lake City and County areas who subscribe in some way to the goal of the Council whose motto is “Community Service for Civic Improvement”. Some of the standing committies include the University Hospital, United Nations, Utah Youth Village, Wasatch Youth Center, YWCA to name a few.
Prominent among the many varied activities and accomplishments of the Salt Lake Council of Women is the International Peace Gardens. The gardens comprise 11 acres and are located in Jordan Park along the banks of the Jordan River at 9th West and 10th South in Salt Lake. They symbolize the true spirit of democracy and world peace, brotherly love, history, literature and cultural heritage of many lands.
The project was initiated in 1939 by Mrs. Otto Wiesley, Citizenship Chair, for good citizenship and to give foreign origin groups a specific part in the beautification of the City for the coming Centennial Celebration of 1947. It was presented to the City Commission and the Parks department and was given their approval and support.
The garden project was stopped before anything was planted because of the onset of World War II, but was resumed in 1947.
Each of the nationality groups is allotted a garden section which they design, create and plant at their own expense. Plans have to be approved by the City Parks Director before they are implemented. As each garden is completed, it is dedicated and presented to the City, who then assumes the permanent maintenance of the garden.
The United States became the first country represented in the gardens. It’s section is the largest of the sections representing countries from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The second section to be organized, planted and dedicated was the Japanese garden. Others followed every year until there were 28 countries represented with others who would like to have a garden, but unfortunately space ran out. Land has opened up on the northwest side of the gardens across the river and has been deeded to the City by Union Pacific and we hope to obtain it to expand the gardens.
Past Presidents and Council delegates act as hostesses each Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. from the first Sunday in June through September to talk with visitors and identify points of interest. Starting in 1964, on the third Saturday of August each year, a festival is held with representatives of various groups dancing and singing traditional songs, dressed in native costumes and serving authentic cuisine and boutique items. The event is family oriented and admission is free.
There are only two peace gardens in the United States – one in North Dakota on the Canadian border and our own here in Salt Lake City.
The gardens are truly a place of peace. People from all over the United States and some foreign countries stop to enjoy a quiet moment and admire the beauty of the gardens. It is estimated over 20,000 people visit each year.