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Salt Lake's Friendship Wall

Hidden in the backyards of two houses in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City is a monument to everlasting friendship. Named the Friendship Wall by its creator, Russell L. Tracy, who was also the namesake of Salt Lake’s Tracy Aviary and Tracy Loan and Trust Company.

Detail of the dedication stone, Katie & Russell Tracy's Friendship Wall in Salt Lake City.
Author's Photo
Russell Tracy, creator of Salt Lake's Friendship Wall
public domain

Russell Tracy and his wife Katie built the wall in 1935 in the backyard of their spacious estate (now located at 1315 E 2nd Avenue). The wall measures 50 feet long and 6 feet tall and is made of 375 unique rocks and artifacts encased in reinforced concrete.

Russell Tracy explained in December of 1935 the he built the wall as a “collection of silent, constant, permanent and visible souvenirs, which will assist that invisible though most valuable of all our assets, namely, memory, in recalling and renewing the experiences and associations necessary to establish friendships.”

Each rock specimen is labeled with a metal cylindrical tag embossed with a number listed in a leger that recorded the corresponding donor and the origin of the stone. Additionally, cemented in the southwest pillar of the wall contained a copper box with an alphabetical list of all the charters members of the Friendship Wall.

Many unique stones and artifacts were a part of the Friendship Wall, including:

  • Scarab from Egypt;
  • Dinosaur bones;
  • Gold quartzite from Nevada;
  • Rock-part of a footing from the Salt Lake City LDS Temple which was removed when space was needed to install the baptismal fonts;
  • A stone from King Tut’s tomb;
  • A stone from King Solomon’s quarries in Jerusalem;
  • A stone from the Taku Glacier in Alaska;
  • Lower jaw of a rhinoceros from the Agate Fossil Fields in Nebraska;
  • Volcanic rock from the Kaibab Forrest of Utah.

Probably due to Russell Tracy’s banking background, each donor was considered a “stockholder” by Russell Tracy and every year he paid “dividends” to his stockholders in the form of gifts and parties. In 1937 the Tracy’s were vacationing in California and sent luxurious boxes of dates from the Imperial Valley to all of their “stockholders” as part of their “annual dividend” in the Friendship Wall. In 1941, the “dividend” was an attractive book written by Russell Tracy about himself and the Tracy family experiences.

A year after its construction, a public open house was held for the Friendship Wall. In 1936, the Tracy’s welcomed more than 6,200 visitors into their backyard to view the wall as well as their newly formed aviary consisting of 150 exotic birds (including a toucan, European Swan, African wax-bill finch, South American golden Pheasant, Domosel Crane, and a cebris monkey).

At the time of its construction, the Friendship Wall was visible to passersby on 2nd Avenue; but now it is located behind two houses built after Russell Tracy died and the Tracy estate was sold and subdivided; currently addressed as 1289 E. 2nd Avenue and 1295 E. 2nd Avenue, Salt Lake City.

Although not really a trend in Salt Lake City, another Friendship Wall was constructed in the backyard of Fred J. Daynes of 1365 Harvard Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah.

References

  • Salt Lake Telegram 1935-12-07 Women in The Week's Local, National News
  • Salt Lake Telegram 1936-09-19 Public Pays Visit to 'Friendship Wall'
  • Salt Lake Telegram 1936-09-21 8000 at 'Friendship Wall' Fete See Collection of Rare Birds
  • Salt Lake Tribune December 1, 1935
  • Salt Lake Tribune December 2, 1935
  • Salt Lake Tribune December 31, 1941
  • Salt Lake Tribune January 8, 1937
  • Salt Lake Tribune June 7, 1936
  • Salt Lake Tribune September 19, 1936