Isaac Davis Haines (1835-1901) seems to have lived a life of both idealism and hard practicality. Born in Ohio to a family with a Quaker background, he claimed to have had a visionary experience with his deceased daughter Jessie who taught him about the Gospel and the responsibility Haines had to save his kindred dead. After searching several years for a faith that matched his vision, Haines met missionary B.H. Roberts who taught him the Gospel as preached by the Latter-day Saints, and Haines was baptized in August 1884. Haines soon brought his wife and children into the Church.
The Haines family moved to Logan where Haines engaged in genealogical research and temple work. He also served for a time as superintendent of Utah’s Industrial School, a reformatory for both boys and girls, involving at least some of his family members in that project. He was also elected mayor of Logan.
Somewhere along the line, Haines became interested in the United Order and, with the help of gardener and landscape artist Ola Larsen, he became fascinated with the idea of working out the necessary practicalities for such an organization to work (at least as he understood it). He apparently believed that individual families must have their private spaces while still living in communal life with other Order members. Each family should have the same space and opportunities as every other family. The community must relieve women of as much of the drudgery of housework, especially labor in the kitchen, as possible, to free women to work in the temples. Wholesome recreational activities must be provided for all members of the community.
And so Haines and Larsen drafted the design of a building and grounds to house 40 families together on a plot of land covering 25 acres. The four-story building was to be circular, consisting of 20 wedge-shaped divisions; each wedge was divided into two mirror-image halves, each long, narrow half (comprising 20 rooms total, divided among the four stories) housing a separate family.
Each home was to have a greenhouse and rear (interior) garden shared with the other family occupying the wedge. In the very center of the circular building was to be a communal kitchen, separated from the homes by covered walkways 60 feet in length, so that the heat and work of the kitchen would be kept separate from the families’ living quarters. In the basement under the kitchen were to be the heating and other mechanical plants for the entire building. (Presumably the women would still be tied to the kitchen, but with less individual work since the labor of heating stoves and ovens would be shared.)
Unfortunately, I have only the detailed floor plan of the first floor. Presumably the upper three stories included bedrooms and other private spaces, but we can only guess …
The shared building itself would have entrances to each private dwelling on the outer edge of the circle. This plan preserved a bit of the old Plat of Zion concept, in that each doorway faced landscaped gardens and recreational areas rather than other dwellings; also, the curve of the building would remove all but the nearest neighbors from eye-line.
Other facilities to be built on each 25-acre lot included a dance hall (24) and ward meeting house (17), fields for playing croquet (22) and baseball (12), and separate girls’ (28) and boys’ (27) playgrounds. A bandstand (23) would shelter musicians to play for both dances and general community enjoyment.
I, uh, have found no evidence that any such utopian communal facilities were ever built, in Logan or elsewhere. Still, it’s fun to see what two believers in the United Order dreamed up as an efficient, pleasant solution to the question of having all things in common while still preserving the ideal of family living.
What think ye?