On April 16th I had the pleasure of attending an open house hosted by the Town of Raymond. They presented the penultimate draft of their historical context paper, drafted with the assistance of consulting firm Donald Luxton & Associates. The open house is the culmination of a process Raymond began with MHPP over two years. Several dozen people attended the event over the course of the evening and all were excited by the result of all this work.
The context paper outlines 16 themes (people or groups, or economic or social forces) that shaped the community and, by extension, the physical environment of the town. The context paper will help Raymond identify historic places: a place is locally significant, and therefore worth preserving, if it somehow reflects the influence of one or more of these themes.
While context papers do not explain the full history of a community, each one can provide a visitor (like me) with a glimpse of how a community evolved over time and Raymond’s is no exception. The town was formed by Jessie Knight who financed the purchase of land in the area, helped establish sugar beets as an important crop, and helped start a sugar refinery in Raymond. The community was settled by Jessie’s son Raymond Knight (the town’s namesake) and other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The town quickly grew to include members of a variety of faiths, including Japanese Buddhists as early as 1902.
I was particularity fascinated to learn about the towns plan of survey, completed in 1901. It’s a unique combination of the urban planning ideas of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who redeveloped much of Paris in the 19th century. Haussmann’s plan for Paris—emphasising boulevards radiating out from central plazas—can be seen in the design of the central square and the radiating boulevards. Joseph Smith’s Plat of Zion—which emphasises large residential lots—is visible in the residential areas. The plan is unique, as far I know. Although it was never followed exactly, you can still see its influence in the width of the streets, the orientations of several buildings and the location of public buildings (like schools, the town hall and churches)
This project is scheduled to conclude shortly. We look forward to seeing what transpires as Raymond moves to begin identifying historic resources.
Written by: Michael Thome Municipal Heritage Services Officer.