18 May 2024

Mountainville Academy's Failure to Incorporate STEM Principals into Actual Practice: The Demolition of the Historic Carlisle House

Architectural salvage of the brick from the Fanny and Thomas Carlisle House, May 17 2024. Mountainville Academy will demolish the house for a parking lot and STEM building.

Demolition of the Carlisle House in Alpine has begun. Mountainville Academy (@mountainvilleacademy) refused the offer by Alpine City and the Friends of the Alpine City Library to purchase the property and turn it into a children’s library. As such, Mountainville has decided to demolish the house rather than let someone else buy it to be preserved or to utilize it themselves.

I visited the Thomas and Fanny Carlisle House on Friday, May 17 2024 and took these photographs. The workers in the images were hired by Alpine City (not Mountainville Academy) to conduct architectural salvage; their focus is on recovering the ca1910 brick, which I was told will be repurposed for the Alpine Library.

FOX13's Shanti Lerner reported that Mountainville plans to use the space for a parking lot and a STEM building… both purposes I find enraging. The parking lot is clearly a shortsighted decision and something that could have been designed to easily avoid the Carlisle House.

The lack of integrating the Carlisle House into a STEM building (an addition could have been added) is yet another shortsighted decision and illustrates Mountainville’s lack of creativity and willingness to incorporate the principles of STEM/STEAM into actual practice.

The entire drive back from Alpine all I could do was think of various science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics classroom exercises that utilized or focused on the Carlisle House. Incorporating historic preservation into STEM/STEAM would have been a true example of “Excellence.”

I helped build Utah’s first standalone STEM program of K-6 grades, at M. Lynn Bennion Elementary (soon to close) a Title 1 School that serves downtown SLC families. We did amazing things with very little funding.

It is so insulting to see a fairly privileged school like Mountainville Academy squander a unique opportunity. One quick example of a potential STEM exercise: make adobe bricks (sun-dried mud) with various compositions and then test their engineering strength.

This potential STEM lesson was on my mind because the adobe brick is now exposed while the exterior fired brick is being salvaged.

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