There could be no more ideal location for a museum, than what the Heritage Museum of Layton has in Commons Park.
With a high school next door, city hall nearby, a library down the street and an adjacent amphitheater, the museum at 403 N. Wasatch Drive, also offers free admission.
The museum boasts some 7,200-square feet of space and has over 2,102 artifacts, 1,890 historical documents and newspapers and 3,357 photographs. The bulk of the Museum's collection dates from the turn of the century to when Layton was principally a rural, agricultural community.
The museum is a “time machine,” with a glimpse of life in the area a century or more ago.
“We try to change it around,” Bill Sanders, museum curator, said of the displays. “We want to give people a reason to come back.”
Since Layton grew out of Kaysville, there is a substantial amount of that nearby city’s history also in the Heritage Museum. (Kaysville does not have a museum.)
The museum’s current special exhibit is entitled “Kay’s Ward Revisited” and traces the lives of the first singles and families who were counted on the U.S. Census of 1850-51 in the Layton/Kaysville area. It will continue until September of 2014.
The on-going main exhibit is “Layton Old Town.”
Since 2014 is the centennial of Davis High School, a special exhibit on Davis County’s first high school is planned for then.
A “calculator,” an adding machine about the size of a typewriter, is on display, as well as some items used in the 1920s at Layton’s First National Bank.
There are also items and food containers sold or used in the Arthur H. Ellis store during 1904.
Even gun enthusiasts will find some gems here – an 1863 pistol and an 1800 flintlock are on display.
There’s an oxen yoke, pot bellied stove, corn planter, seed sower, 1903 car, assorted clothing, vintage photographs and much more.
Outside the museum, there’s a molasses mill from 1873 on the south side and a stone mill from the 1850s on the northwest side.
Sanders said the museum averages about 30-50 visitors a day in the summer season, so it is rarely crowded.
Open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturdays, from 1-5 p.m., the museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
With many festivities going on in Commons Park for the Fourth and Twenty-fourth of July, the museum will also be open for limited hours during those holidays.
The museum’s establishment was suggested by the late Oma E. Wilcox, a well-known civic leader and benefactor. During the 1970s, former Mayor Lewis G. Shields and the City Council promoted it as a project for the nation's Bicentennial. Funds were raised for its construction over several years and were aided by a Utah Bicentennial Commission grant and a loan by the city.
Construction started in 1978, and the building was completed and dedicated on July 4, 1979. It opened to the public later at a total cost of $143,000.
Years later, the museum benefited from more than $700,000 worth of improvements/expansions.
The museum takes donations of items, if they apply to the mission of the museum. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Sanders at 801-336-3930.