Grand Teton workers find home on Mormon Row

JACKSON — One of the first places where people settled in Jackson Hole now has new residents.

Grand Teton National Park workers started moving in two weeks ago to the old Moulton homestead on Mormon Row, about three years after a scare when the last square mile of private property in that part of the park went on the market.

Instead, a donor gave the purchase price — it was advertised at $5 million — to the Grand Teton National Park Foundation to buy the land. The foundation hasn’t identified the donor, but said one woman gave the entire amount.

Gopaul Noojibail, acting superintendent of Grand Teton Park, said the donation of the land “is a clear indication of the impact the park has on individuals, as well as the impact an individual can have on the park.”

Foundation employee Maddy Johnson said the nonprofit raised additional cash to renovate buildings on the property and worked for two years “on some fixup and work to maximize the park’s capacity to have employees there.”

She said a minimum of nine of the park’s summer workers will be able to live at the house and its several cabins.

Foundation President Leslie Mattson said that, with the shortage of housing in the park, “we are glad we can support Grand Teton by providing more space for their employees to live.”

Preventing any unwelcome redevelopment was another aim. Under Teton County zoning, the land could have had 10,000 square feet of new building space added without the county or the park having much to say.

For 20 years the property had been operated as a bed and breakfast by Hal Blake, great-grandson of homesteader T.A. Moulton, and Blake’s wife, Iola — the last people living on Mormon Row, which once was a busy center of early Mormon agricultural settlement on the east side of Blacktail Butte.

The Blakes wanted to retire, so they put the land on the market.

Hal Blake told foundation people that he and his wife were “thrilled to know the property and all the structures that my grandparents created and loved will be preserved and put to good use.”

The square mile, and much of the surrounding land, was homesteaded in 1906 by T.A. Moulton, who built the famous and much-photographed Moulton Barn just to the north of the house and cabins. His son, Clark, ranched the land until the 1970s.

Blake told the Jackson Hole News&Guide in 2017 that he remembered standing at the homestead with his grandfather and hearing him say that the remnant was “the biggest acre in the country.”