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Pleasant Grove City


Pleasant Grove City Hall is located at 70 South 100 East, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062; phone: 801-785-5045.

Beginnings [1]

Pleasant Grove was first founded by Mormon colonizers on September 13, 1850, and became an incorporated city on January 19, 1855. In 1852 George A. Smith, the Mormon apostle appointed to regulate the affairs south of Salt Lake City, wrote that he had "located a site for a town ... about a quarter of a mile square to possess the conveniences of a town and the security of a fort." A fort was built in Pleasant Grove and most other Utah towns in 1853 due to an escalation of conflicts with Native Americans known as the Walker War. That fort survey ultimately shaped the town; the established fort was the nucleus from which the town grew.

Smith's fort plan specified fifteen lots of three rods by ten rods arranged on the four sides of the fort. Most of the fort wall, built only four feet high, did not afford much protection except as a gathering point where a united effort could be launched in case of trouble. All lots and houses faced a large central square that served as a public corral. Outlying residents quickly dismantled their houses and moved them inside the fort. Four large corner lots were reserved for public buildings and community functions. The school house was relocated from outside the fort to the southwest corner lot of the fort. The northeast corner became known as Union Square, where the town's militia drilled, and a small building was built ca. 1865 to deposit guns and ammunition. The building still stands at the same location, 64 North 200 East. Four roads exited near the corner lots and a wide road ran inside the fort between the houses and the feedlots.

Thomas Bullock, President Brigham Young's secretary, reported on the fort ten months after its conception. "Trees are planted inside the fort all around, five rods from the houses, with water ditches running by their side. It measured eighty rods square with 106 houses, and it boasted a population of 149 females and 166 males. This is decidedly the cleanest, neatest, driest and prettiest fort we have yet visited." The 106 houses almost doubled the sixty lots of the original fort plan, and by that fall 120 houses had been built. The original intent may have been to survey a grid townsite separate from the fort-site, in keeping with traditional Mormon settlement patterns. However, the quick growth forced a second survey to create new blocks to the north.

Development of a city inside a fort survey is unusual in Utah. Most towns throughout Utah abandoned fort sites completely after the fear of Indian attack ended. People either moved back to already surveyed town sites or established town sites through grid surveys. Some used a corner of their fort as a point to survey new town sites and continued to live in houses already established, but all other Utah communities built their business and community centers outside fort boundaries.

Pleasant Grove was not surveyed on the Mormon grid as were other towns in Utah, but developed on a quasi-grid from the fort and subsequent surveys. The established house placement remained with the exception of new outlet roads adjoining the four right-angle streets of the fort to create square, or almost square, city blocks. New surveys outside the fort designated four-acre blocks divided into one-acre building lots and extended mostly to the streets north and east, and to some degree south. These various surveys account for the lack of block uniformity. The average street in Pleasant Grove is only sixty-six feet wide-only two-thirds the width of typical Utah towns that were initially laid out with one-mile square grids and streets ninety-nine feet wide.

Pleasant Grove's unique fort site development is still evident. The wide fort roads that ran around the central corral perimeter are now 200 South, 200 East, Main Street, and Center Streets. Here fort roads narrow at the junction of the new roads to provide access to the later surveyed area outside the fort. Since houses were already established, narrow accesses to the new surveys outside the fort had to do.

  1. Beth R. Olsen and the Utah SHPO Staff, Pleasant Grove Historic District, Pleasant Grove, Utah County, UT, nomination document, 1995, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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