15 January 2024

Historic Utah Capitol Building Now on Redwood Road

Have you ever noticed this Lion in front of Ron Case Roofing at 440 S Redwood Road SLC? It is one of the original 4 lions that were installed at the Utah State Capitol in 1917 and restored by Ralphael Plescia (founder of the famed Christian School at 1324 State St) in 1976.

Lion in front of Ron Case Roofing at 440 S Redwood Road SLC (June 2023).

Lion in front of Ron Case Roofing at 440 S Redwood Road SLC (June 2023).

Lion in front of Ron Case Roofing at 440 S Redwood Road SLC (June 2023).
The 4 original lions were removed from the capitol in 1999 and were deemed too deteriorated for repair (but see below). The lions were sold at a surplus auction and Lagoon purchased 3 of them for about $16K while SLC business owner Ron Case outbid Lagoon on the 4th (and largest) with his bid of about $8K.

The 4 lions were sculpted in 1917 by Gavin Jack who had convinced Richard Kletting, architect of the State Capitol Building, that lions should flank the entrances to the Utah Capitol Building. He was awarded an $800 (about $20K in 2024 money) contract to carve and cast the lions in concrete, which were placed on the east and west entrances of the building.

Original lions by Gavin Jack at State Capitol Building, ca 1920s. Image from USHS.

Original lions by Gavin Jack at State Capitol Building. Image from USHS.

Gavin Jack grew up in Manti and had both art and engineering experience. In the 1880s he traveled to NYC and studied at the Cooper Institute and the Art Students League working with Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He also studied art and lived in Dresden and Paris for several years. And he worked with concrete during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Gavin Jack. Original creator of the Utah Capitol lions. Image from familysearch.
Jack was rather popular in his day earning many commissions, painting portraits of prominent citizens, painting for the theater stage, painting a mural in the old Manti North Ward LDS Chapel (now demolished), and did sculpture work at the Columbia Exposition World’s Fair. His wife Sarah was a concert pianist who had also worked in France and Germany.

In 1969 the State decided to remove the lions due to wear, but also probably because famed sculptor and founder of the University of Utah Fine Arts Dept, Dr. Avard Fairbanks, criticized Gavin Jack as “an obscure sculptor and have no value as art…there is no need to save them.” He further insisted that Gavin Jack was just someone who tried to do something with art; and, he mistakenly said that Jack had no formal training. Many members of the public, and famed local artist Mabel Frazer, pushed back on this opinion and defended the lions and Gavin Jack. Ultimately, the state quietly dropped the whole proposal and there wasn’t any money appropriated for any of it.

Plescia restored the lions in 1976. The Utah Legislature had appropriated $50K to restore the lions but Plescia convinced officials to hire him to do the job at a cost not to exceed $3K. Plescia’s restoration used a latex and cement mixture to restore missing parts a fill in the cracks. After studying other lion sculptures and visiting the lions at the zoo, Plescia decided to depart from the original lion design to achieve a more natural-looking animal. At the time that Plescia took on the lion project, he was 5 years into his Christian School project, which he called “the Museum” and was intended to be a restaurant with liquor and entertainment.

Raphael Plescia with a restored lion in 1976.  Image from SpacesArchive.
Raphael Plescia with a restored lion in 1985. From The Salt Lake Tribune Oct 4 1985.

The issue with the deterioration of the lions was renewed in 1999 when restoration work began on the Utah State Capitol Building and the lions were removed because of work being done on the steps. In 2007, 4 new lions were commissioned from British master carver Nick Fairplay who sculpted them out of Italian marble; they were installed at the State Capitol in 2008.

When the old lions went up for public auction in 2009, Capitol Preservation Board executive director David Hart was quoted in a KSL article as saying that at auction the lions might get “maybe a buck” and “they are of no value to us.”

But of course, between the Lagoon and Ron Case purchases, the sale of the 4 lions equated to about $24K, which is about $500K in 1917 dollars… so the state made a 99% net profit when accounting for inflation.

SLC business owner Ron Case outbid Lagoon on the 4th (and largest) lion. In a 2016 interview on Fox13’s Uniquely Utah series, Ron Case said he didn’t want the lion to leave SLC and that Salt Lake’s Westside was worthy of a “lion size portion of pride.”

The Lagoon Lions have been restored and are proudly on display in front of Cannibal. Ron Case gave an interview to Fox13 in 2016 in which he stated he does not intend to restore the lion as it is art and history just as it is. 

You can see the Ron Case lion on the west side of 440 S Redwood Road SLC. 

You can see the Lagoon lions near the Cannibal roller coaster.

Restored lions at Lagoon. Image from familysearch.

Restored lions at Lagoon. Image from familysearch.

  • Lagoon buys 3 Utah State Capitol lion statues, KSL.com, Oct 9 2009
  • Uniquely Utah: The fate of the Capitol’s final lion, Fox 13, July 24 2016
  • Hobbyist is a fix-it man, Deseret News July 10 1976
  • State Will Dispose of Old Pair of Lions, Deseret News April 22 1969
  • State Capitol Sculptor Painted in Orangeville, Emery County Progress Feb 6 1975
  • The return of Gavin Jack: Paintings will grace library, The Manti Messenger Sept 4 1986
  • Capitol Guardians to Retire, 52 Years Erode Their Value, Salt Lake Tribune April 22 1916

13 January 2024

Mammy’s Chicken Inn, Salt Lake City

Mammy's Chicken Inn menu cover, Salt Lake City
Image adapted from worthpoint

Mammy’s Chicken Inn was located at 890 W 2100 South (now Flying J Travel Center parking lot). This is a new one for me.

The restaurant was owned by George Gerard-Theodoracopulos) (1891-1965) who was born in Crete, Greece, and came to SLC in 1910, and his wife Mary L. H. Gerard, originally from Grand Junction, Colorado, and came to SLC in 1917.

The Gerards (as they were commonly known) were associated with several restaurants throughout the years including Mammy’s Chicken Inn, Silver Slipper, Charlott Club, Streamliner, and Dahlia Inn. And many of these got into some trouble with the law regarding bootlegging, bribery, and gambling devices.

The Silver Slipper Inn operated about 1930-1941 and is notable for its location at 3100 Highland Drive, just down the street from another restaurant owned by a different family but also using racist icons, the Coon Chicken Inn at 2960 Highland Drive, which operated 1925-1957.

The Coon Chicken Inn featured an overembellished character of a bald Black man with a porter’s cap. I have posted about this in the past and there is a Wikipedia page on this one.

The Gerards opened Mammy’s Chicken Inn in 1947 at the corner of 900 West and 2100 South SLC. It used the Mammy caricature throughout its branding, including on menus and souvenirs. I could not find a photo of the restaurant but the illustration on the menu shows a large Mammy sign on top of the building’s entrance.
Mammy's Chicken Inn menu. Image adapted from worthpoint
Mammy's Chicken Inn menu. Image adapted from worthpoint

Mammy's Chicken Inn menu. Image adapted from worthpoint

Mammy's Chicken Inn advertisements, from the Salt Lake Tribune

The last reference I could find to Mammy’s Chicken Inn being operational was their New Year’s Eve advertisement in December 1960. By this time, the Coon Chicken Inn had already closed.

In SLC (and presumably elsewhere) the term “Mammy Chicken” was used to describe the style of fried chicken as well as to infer authenticity.

I found other references to the use of the term Mammy Chicken for Utah restaurants. A selection of those: 
  • 1919: A “real colored mammy” Mammy Margette at Roselawn 4374 Highland Drive
  • 1930: Delicious Mammy Fried Chicken, Cabaret Dancing after 9 pm, at Blue Moon Car Service, 3618 Highland Drive
  • 1931: Mammy’s Friend Chicken at Glaus’ Coffee Shop, cooked by a different process, 169 S Main SLC
  • 1937: Home Cooked Food, Mammy Fried Chicken at Sugar House Café 1058 E 2100 S
  • 1941: Mammy Fried Chicken and J. Dean’s Rhythm Boys at Dixieland Tavern, Ogden Highway
  • 1948: Mammy Fried Chicken, Home Cooked Meals, Ethel’s Café in Roy, Utah

For additional historical context:
  • 1889: Aunt Jemima as a Mammy caricature
  • 1909: NAACP founded in NYC
  • 1919: Salt Lake Branch of the NAACP founded
  • 1925: Lynching of Robert Marshall in Price, Utah
  • 1954: Brown v. Board of Education
  • 1955: Emmitt Till murder, Rosa Parks bus arrest
  • 1960: MLK and others were arrested for a sit-in protest
  • 1963: MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech and the March on Washington
  • 1978: LDS Church Official Declaration 2 removed the racial restriction of priesthood

04 January 2024

2023 Recap with Demolished Salt Lake Podcast

I was a guest on episodes 31 and 32 of the Demolished Salt Lake Podcast. “2023 Preservation Wins, Loses and What to Watch in 2024.”

We discussed some of the buildings we lost in 2023, the ones that were saved, and those that are in danger of demolition in 2024. We had more saves than losses this year, which was greatly needed after the past few years.

In this first of two parts, we talk about the loss of the Pink House and the Yardstick Building earlier this year. Discuss the status of the land on which some historic buildings used to stand in my “Still a Parking Lot” segment (ahem... the La France Apartments) and move on to buildings that will be demolished in 2024. Saving the best for last, we end with good news for a few of our historic buildings and areas.

We know we missed some buildings, but these are some of the standouts.

With – Wendi Pettett and Chris Jensen of Demolished Salt Lake Podcast and Adrienne White of House Genealogy

Photos of some of the highlights:

1. The Pink House (Covey House), 666 E 300 South SLC
2. Mountain Bell Building, 205 E 200 South SLC
3. Elias Harrison House, 10 N 300 West SLC
4. Cramer House, 241 Floral St SLC
5. Liberty Wells Center, 707 S 400 East SLC
6. Musser House, 2157 S Lincoln St SLC
7. 2nd Ward Assembly Hall, 483 E 700 South SLC
8. Jerald and Sandra Tanner House / Utah Lighthouse Ministries, 1350-1358 S West Temple SLC
9. Brinton House, 4880 S Highland Circle Holladay
10. Wells Ward Chapel, 1990 S 500 East SLC

15 December 2023

Action Alert - Help Save Alpine's Carlisle House

The Thomas and Fanny Carlisle House located in Alpine, Utah is now under threat and is planned for demolition by the adjacent Mountainville Academy 

The Carlisle House at 129 S Main St Alpine, Utah.  Photos from Carlisle House Photo Studio.

Interior images of the Carlisle House at 129 S Main St Alpine, Utah.
Photos from Carlisle House Photo Studio.

BUT, this historic home has a real chance of being saved!  There is a cash buyer for this house and no reason to lose it as the city of Alpine has said they would sell another lot for the school to build upon. Demolition of this important community place is not needed as there are alternatives available that are feasible and make sense for all involved.

The house is noteworthy because it was the first to be constructed beyond Alpine’s “Old Fort Wall,” which was expanded in 1855 from a smaller fortification called “the Wordsworth Fort.” The house stands as one of the last remaining pioneer homes in Alpine.

It was built in several stages from around 1855 to 1910 and is associated with the early settlement and development of Alpine. The various building periods are noticeable externally due to the different materials that were used.

Carlisle House construction history, from USHS, colorized by author.

Carlisle House construction history, from USHS, colorized by author.

 Fanny and Thomas were famous inhabitants of Alpine who were friendly to everyone. They were renowned for their generosity and often had indigenous people camp on their property and dry their blankets after storms passed through the area. The Carlisle house was a symbol of friendship and a community hub for those in need.

Images from familysearch.org

The house remained in the family for many years until it was recently sold and transformed into a photo studio. Hundreds of families visited the studio and had their pictures taken inside the house and on the property. 

The Carlisle house is now under threat and is planned for demolition. Help us save this important community asset – post a comment and tell us your stories and memories of the Carlisle house.

Image from Google, modified by author.

Contact the Mountainville Academy and tell them why it is important to you and the Alpine community, and ask them to accept the offer to purchase the Carlisle house.

Contact the Alpine City Council and tell them to preserve the Carlisle house.

Also, fun fact, Thomas is my 8th cousin 4 times removed. I had to trace my ancestry back to the 1500s in jolly old England but we are related!

A selection of comments posted on my Instagram:

  • Thank you for sharing! I'm an Alpine resident and I love this old house!
  • Thank you for sharing the story wow!
  • My family’s been in Alpine for a few generations, and my grandma worked at the old Bank of American Fork that sits right next to this house. Alpine as I remember it doesn’t exist anymore! Losing another pioneer home in Alpine would be a tragedy.
  • Fanny was the oldest person in Alpine at the time of her death.
  • Growing up, I moved a lot and didn't have a real "hometown." But my grandparents lived in Alpine for most of my life, so the drive past this house and up the hill toward Moyle Park is forever etched in my brain. It's the only place the feels like home to me. I'd buy that house immediately if I had the cash myself! Please, please save it.

Update - 4 Jan 2024
Mountainville Academy does not want to sell the Carlisle house to the private buyer who has submitted a cash offer.  Mountainville Academy has not been listening to the community and they are demanding Alpine City initiate a land swap with stipulations as the only way they will not demolish the historic home. Which now puts the burden on the Alpine City Council to facilitate their demand or face the loss of this important community gem. 

01 December 2023

Hale Market Ghost Sign

The Hale Grocery ghost sign at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City, has been revealed during recent renovations. The old market is soon to become a new location of Victor’s Restaurant (of Victor’s Tires fame!)

Hale Grocery ghost sign at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City. Nov 2023.

Hale Grocery ghost sign at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City. Nov 2023.

Hale Grocery ghost sign at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City. Nov 2023.

Hale Market, as it was most commonly known, was established about 1925 by Parley W. and Olive Hale. They purchased and lived in the now adjoining home and converted the garage into a market.

In the first few decades, Hale Market was primarily known as a butcher shop, but it also sold dry goods, groceries, and notions (sewing accessories).

Parley Hale primarily worked at the store, and when his son Don C. Hale was old enough, he worked at the market too. The ca. 1940 photo shows both Parley and Don Hale in front of the market.

Hale’s Market with Parley and Don Hale, ca. 1940. From FamilySearch.

The son, Don C. Hale, wanted to go into business of his own and was intrigued by car hops. But having been denied the Big Boy franchise (it was purchased by someone else), Don decided to build his own burger shop and in 1959 opened Hires Drive-In at 425 S 700 East. Don was able to procure his fresh meat, bread, and produce through Hale Market. (Of note, it is called Hires because Hires Root Beer provided a sign if they agreed to sell Hires root beer.)

Glen Boldt took over ownership of the market in 1981. He started working at the market in 1954 as a bagger at the age of 14. He kept the old wood shelves and the pea-green wooden counter to keep that old neighborhood market feel that he loved.

As a local shop, Glen Boldt knew just about everyone in the neighborhood and extended credit to long-time customers.

 Hale Market about 2011, from Google Street View.

Even when the Smiths Marketplace (previously known as Fred Meyers) was built in 1995, Hale Market persevered.

Hale Market closed around 2016 and has been vacant since.

The building is located in the local Central City Historic District and any significant changes are subject to approval by the SLC Historic Landmark Commission.

Hale Market at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City. Nov 2023.

Hale Market at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City. Nov 2023.

The house adjoining Hale Market at 511 S 500 East, Salt Lake City. Nov 2023.

29 November 2023

Great-Grandma Edna’s Fruit Cake

Great-Grandma Edna’s Fruit Cake

3 to 4 4-oz jars Glacé mixed fruit peeled
3 4- oz jars Glacé pineapple, cubed
2 to 3 Glacé jars of cherries (red and green), cut up
3 3/4 cups seedless golden raisins
3/4 cup currants
2 1/4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup grape juice
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
5 eggs
1 tsp almond flavoring
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace
1/4 tsp baking soda

COMBINE the fruits and nuts with the grape juice, allow mixture to stand for 1 hour.

MIX: sugar, butter thoroughly in large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, almond flavor, cinnamon, mace, and baking soda. Turn the batter into a tube pan (or bread pans) lined with wax paper. Press down lightly.

BAKE at 275 degrees until firm and evenly browned, approximately 3 hours.

Remove from oven and cool for an hour. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly.

Wrap cake in brandy-soaked cheesecloth. Store in air-tight container for at least one week.

Chill before serving.

Grandma used to make this about Thanksgiving and bring out for Christmas...it was delicious.

100-year-old Salt Lake City recipes from the Sarah Daft Home

A collection of 100-year-old Salt Lake City recipes, for your consideration this holiday season.

These recipes are from the 1923 Sarah Daft Home Cook Book, as assembled by the Board of Directors.

The Sarah Daft Home, established in 1911, is one of the oldest nonprofit assisted living facilities in the USA and still utilizes its original Colonial Revival historic building at 737 S 1300 East SLC.

Many of the women who contributed to this cookbook were upper-middle-class club women; meaning, these women and their families were part of the professional working society (not millionaires) and likely cooked for their households rather than employing full-time servants. These women often hosted bridge parties, dinner parties, and holiday celebrations.

Many of these women were LDS but some were not and included here are some recipes with wine and spirits.

I tend to think of this collection as the 1923 version of “easy entertaining.” These recipes are economical, not complex, and are often quicker versions of traditional methods.

I chose not to highlight some of the more unusual recipes, such as “Fish Pudding” (described later as “a good use of sucker fish from Utah Lake.”)

Be assured, there are quite a few gelatin-based recipes, and certainly some similar to classic Utah Jello Salad creations.

Surprising to me was the inclusion of “pigs in a blanket” as I had assumed that was born in the 1950s.

Also fun is the term “alligator pear” which refers to avocados.

Of note, in 1923 Salt Lake, the avocado was fairly rare and expensive; so, the inclusion of an avocado salad recipe in this cookbook speaks to the higher social and economic status of these women.

In 1924 the Avocado Pear was described as the Thanksgiving season’s “freak food” and sold in a local store for 85 cents each… which equates to $15.20 in 2023 dollars.

I can see many of these recipes being well-suited for today’s holiday gatherings.

A tip from my Great-Grandmother: she always made her Fruit Cake around Thanksgiving and soaked it in Brandy until Christmas.