Swenson House Reimagined
Swenson House Interior
Located at the base of Old Main Hill, the Swenson House will serve as a threshold to the university—a place of welcome and a bridge between campus and community. While this is a public space, the Swenson House will retain design elements that will pay homage to the original family home. The design will feature cozy reading nooks, Greta’s Kitchen (which will provide a venue for local musicians to perform), a conference room that will be available for use by faculty or for rental to local businesses, and an event space for university-sponsored readings and lectures by visiting scholars and writers.
Greta’s Kitchen will be open to the public during weekdays and Saturday. It will serve Greta’s Cardamom Rolls, based on the original Swedish recipe that was a Swenson family favorite. The kitchen will also serve specialty coffees, hot chocolate, Italian sodas, various pastries, and packaged sandwiches, all prepared by USU Food Service. There will also be a walk-up window on the front patio where students hiking Old Main Hill can get their beverages to-go.
Phase 1: Building the Swenson House, Front Patio and Landscaping
The Groundbreaking Ceremony on Sept 18 marks the first phase of the project, which will build the house on the edge of campus where it can serve as a threshold between the community of Logan and USU. While the exterior of the home will pay homage to the original architectural design, the interior will be a light-filled community space that includes a cozy fireplace, a specialty café, reading and study nooks, and an events space where we envision audiences enjoying a variety of public programing, from creative writers inspiring us with their poems, memoirs, or fiction, to scholars leading captivating discussions on the issues of our time, to local musicians entertaining us while we lounge on the patio, eating Greta’s cardamom rolls and sipping coffee. There will also be space for small writing workshops and impromptu class meetings. The final project will honor the past while leaving space for the future. It will educate visitors about May and the Swenson family home, and at the same time, inspire them toward, as Swenson wrote, “the larger, wilder place of things as they are becoming.”
Phase 2: Building the Back Patio and Installing the Gardens
The second phase of construction will focus on building the back patio as another events space and replanting the gardens in a way that will honor May’s interest in the natural world. The gardens will contain flower, tree and fruit varieties that once grew in the original Swenson garden, and we imagine that someday this property will host local elementary school age children who come to learn about growing their own food, master gardeners interested in learning about heirloom plants and water-wise landscaping, as well as university students relaxing on benches shaded by fruit trees on their way to and from classes.
Phase 3: Building the Writer-in-Residence Cabins
Finally, in Phase 3 we will add two writers’ cabins where visiting creative writers and humanities scholars will be able to devote themselves to their work, a semester at a time. Our hope is that they will be inspired by the beautiful locale, the proximity to the thriving campus and community, and the peace of a space dedicated to fostering creative thinking.
Coming Soon - Time-Lapse videos of the progess of the Swenson House project. Check Back!
The design for the Swenson House is fully in keeping with principles of sustainability. All appliances and systems are Energy Star certified, and the building will be lit with LED lights. The landscaping will include water-wise plantings, and plenty of bike racks will be available for those who commute via two wheels rather than four. The café will recycle and use post-consumer products.
The Swenson House Project is being designed by Matt Wallace of Method Studio, a full-service architectural and design firm in downtown Salt Lake City. Matt and the team at Method Studio have devoted themselves to the vision of the Swenson House, and have spent many hours researching the site and its history. Method Studio has been involved in important public projects around the state, and they work with their clients to “create meaningful places with a lasting impact.”