History of the Swenson Family and Swenson Park

“It was the best-looking house in all the neighborhood. The first door to the left was May’s room. We called this the reading room.” –May’s sister, Margaret Woodbury

The site was once the home of a famous poet, but also a hardworking and loving family. It will be a place for new ideas and experiences, firmly rooted in the tradition of Utah State University and Cache Valley.

May Swenson was known for reinventing herself and for themes of transformation in her poetry, and like Swenson herself, this project has undergone a process of, to use a key word from one of her poems, “becoming.”

Arrival of the Swenson Family

Dan and Margaret "Greta" Swenson were Swedish immigrants who arrived in Logan in 1912 toward the end of the great Scandinavian migration to Utah of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They raised ten children, with May being the oldest. Greta was known for her church service and sinfully delicious Swedish cardamom rolls. Dan taught at Utah State University for forty years. He was also a carpenter, a horticulturist, a poet, a beekeeper, and a bishop.


Main Street in Logan Utah - 1912


Original Swenson House with Lights

Building a Home

Around 1917, Dan purchased a lot for their family's future home. A historical record mentions that Dan sent away for plans and specifications for a house they liked very much. Kit homes were a common, affordable way to build in the early 20th century. Homes were ordered from a catalog and shipped by rail. Kits came with a set of plans and precut materials to build the entire home. The Swenson home was a classic six-room bungalow with a full basement.

Expanding for a Growing Family

In 1922, Dan, Greta, and their children moved into the house, interiors unfinished. Dan continued to finish the home while also making furniture for each room. They had a vast garden and orchard, harvesting most of their own food to feed their growing family. Over time, the house evolved and expanded to 16 rooms.

Swenson Family

Drawing of Swenson Apartments


Dan also built an apartment complex for university students next to their home. This complex became known as "Swensonville" and housed hundreds of students through the years, including Swenson children and neighboring Caine and Eccles children, along with other university students.


Standing Still

May Swenson graduated from Utah State University and moved to New York, becoming a world-renowned poet. As one of the most distinguished graduates of Utah State, she never forgot her roots in Logan. Other members of the Swenson family branched out and became successful writers, educators, doctors, poets, and artists. In the 1970's the family sold the home to Utah State University. While May's childhood home no longer exists, the site grew back with natural foliage and provided a well-traveled path to the university. The dream of the Swenson family and USU campus community—to recognize the site of May Swenson's childhood home and honor her legacy, while providing inspiration to a new generation of writers—has been several years in the making.

Swenson Home Site - Path

Swenson Park Groundbreaking

Swenson Park Groundbreaking

Moving forward, plans evolved to build a structure on the site that would pay homage to the original Swenson Home. A groundbreaking for what will become Swenson Park was held on September 18, 2018. There were many distinguished guests in attendance from the Utah State and Logan City communities, as well as supporters of the project including many members of the Swenson family.

Noelle Cockett, President of Utah State University, said, "A groundbreaking is a symbolic gesture. As we plant our shovels in the ground today, we also plant the seeds of an imagined space that embodies and extends the values of Utah State."

USU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences was honored to have Margaret Woodbury attend and participate in the Swenson Park Groundbreaking by reading a poem written by May Swenson. May was the oldest and Margaret was the youngest daughter (and last surviving child) of ten Swenson children. We are sorry to report Margaret passed away on December 6, 2018, but are grateful for her enduring desire to move this project forward.

We look forward to carrying forth the legacy of May and the entire Swenson family through future generations of the family and the creativity of artists and writers who will visit the Swenson Park.


Events Held in Connection the the Swenson Park Groundbreaking - September 18, 2018